School may be out for summer, but for several local college and youth rodeo competitors, they still have “finals.”
Eight members of the Tarleton State University rodeo team, under leadership of Bob Doty, the 2006 National Intercollegiate Coach of the Year, who have qualified for the 2007 College National Finals Rodeo, will head to Casper, WY this weekend for a week-long competition that will decide the men’s and women’s national collegiate rodeo champions.
At stake are not only the bragging rights for national champions, but also scholarship money that is awarded to school’s rodeo program. US Smokeless Tobacco awards the national individual event champions $3,000 for first, $1,500 for second and $400 for third place finishes. The winning teams receive money that goes specifically to the school’s rodeo scholarship program. The team has already won $4200 in scholarships for TSU , awarded from US Smokeless Tobacco due to individuals winning at the regional level. TSU is part of the Southwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
Some veterans to the CNFR as well as first- timers will get to show fellow college rodeo athletes what they are made of and work hard to bring back another national title for both the mens’ and womens’ teams.
The womens’ team will definitely give the competition a run for the money with returning womens’ 2006 CNFR All-Around Champion and this year’s regional All-Around award winner, TSU sophomore Kirby Eppert taking her skills to Casper in the goat tying and breakaway roping.
Joining her will be TSU junior Jamie Mader, who won second in the all-around in the region and third in the region in breakaway roping. She will also enter the team roping with partner Johnny Townsend from New Mexico Junior College.
Jacey Honey, a junior and transfer from Vernon College, will be making a return trip to the CNFR after an appearance as a freshman to compete in breakaway roping after finishing fourth in the region in breakaway roping.
The fourth member of the TSU womens’ team hoping to bring home another national title is Taryn Krantz, a junior and transfer from Weatherford College who won fourth in the region in goat tying. This will be her first trip to the CNFR.
For the men, Louie Bronson, a TSU junior, won the region this year in saddle bronc riding after transferring from Ft. Scott Junior College, Ft. Scott, KS and it will be his first trip to the CNFR.
Another transfer student from Weatherford college for the mens’ team is Ty Hillman, originally from Colorado, will compete as a heeler in team roping with header Hub Baker, who both won second in the region.
Matt Roberson, a junior and transfer from Western Montana, who placed third in team roping in the region, will compete with Cody Tew, who has been to the last two CNFR competitions.
Trevor Cox, a senior will make the CNFR his last college rodeo appearance competing in steer wrestling after winning the region in steer wrestling. He is a transfer from Garden City Community College.
Last, but not least, is Stephenville standout and freshman Harve Stewart, taking his bull riding skills to the CNFR for the first time. Stewart who has been on the trail on the professional circuit as well, also won the region in bull riding.
Coach Doty thinks his team is a good mix. “I think both teams have a good chance to win a national championship. There are enough veterans that will help the first timers . There are the others just going that have never been there and can do good,” commented Doty.
The first round of competition will begin on Sunday with all roughstock riders getting on their first head of a three-head competition series, as well as girls’ breakaway ropers getting their first shot at their calves.
The remaining contestants will have their first shot during slack, which begins on Monday morning, which will finish up the first round of competition. Tuesday will be a full day of slack, starting and finishing the second round of competition. The third go-round will start during regular rodeo performances Tuesday through Friday evening. Saturday evening will showcase the top twelve qualifiers from each event for the short go-round.
The Texas High School Rodeo Association finals will also begin this coming Sunday in Abilene with several local high school athletes qualifying for competition. Lane Hedeman of Morgan Mill will compete in team roping and cutting, Shelby Irick in team roping and Jane Irick girls’ breakaway roping and goat tying; Lacey Donegan in barrel racing.