The Santa Maria High School Light Horse Judging Team has earned the 2013 state championship and is leading the way to the National FFA Organization Convention & Expo in October. The honor has not been accomplished since 1977.

The team captured the state championship May 4 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is qualified to compete at the FFA Nationals in October in Louisville, Ky.

They judged horses standing at halter, in performance and explained their selections. Thirty-two teams consisting of 120 competitors participated from throughout California.

FFA adviser Carolyn Sherry called the win “amazing” because the team learned everything from scratch and beat students from other schools who were raised with horses and show horses.

“They really wanted it bad and this is their last shot because they are all seniors,’’ Sherry said. “It’s incredible what they have accomplished. We are all so excited to be going to Louisville!”

The winners are Valerie Canas, Yessica Hernandez, Noe Perez and Giselle Sanchez-Zuno. Perez placed as the first High Individual and dominated the contest.

Perez called the experience “awesome.” Sanchez-Zuno described the experience as “unbelievable.”

“Once they announced it, I did not know what to feel,’’ Hernandez said of the victory announcement.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has several hundred FFA members. There are more than 75,000 FFA members throughout California.

— Kenny Klein represents the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.