The Tarleton State University rodeo team kicks off the 2018 fall season at the Eastern New Mexico University Rodeo Sept. 20-22.

Tarleton, part of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Southwest Region, will visit five colleges this fall beginning with ENMU in Portales, N.M., winding up in Lubbock at Texas Tech in late October.

“I speak for the coaching staff as I say that we are all excited, both the men’s and women’s teams, about this year,” said women’s coach Brittany Bell. “Everyone is ready going into the first event of the season at Eastern New Mexico.”

The Tarleton women’s team lost both College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR)s Gear Up to Begin qualifiers, Baili Collins, two-time defending regional goat tying champion, who went to Casper five times, and Rylee Dick, the top breakaway roper in the Southwest in 2017-18.

Still, women’s coach Brittany Bell sees reasons for optimism this season.

“We’ll definitely miss them, said Bell. “But, we have a great group of ladies who are all very talented. We have a strong returning group, and we have some girls that transferred in this year who will be veterans to the CNFR. It will be difficult having to only pick four ladies for the points team, but that is a good thing.”

Head coach Mark Eakin, beginning his 11th season at Tarleton, took his men’s team to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., in June.

Although the team lost several cowboys to graduation, including regional champion saddle bronc rider Brody Cress, Tarleton returns three from last year’s Southwest Region title team including national champion bareback rider Tyler Berghuis.

Berguis, a graduate student from Atwater, Minn., turned in a 78-point ride in the opening round of the CNFR in June, then hit 80 or better on each of his last three rides to earn the CNFR crown. Even being absent for two fall rodeos, the Southwest Region bareback runner-up was the picture of consistency last season, earning three second-place finishes and was no lower than fourth in seven of 10 NIRA regular-season stops.

Joining Berguis as returnees with CNFR experience are calf ropers Tyler Parrish and Wyatt Williams and team roping header Ky Bray.

The Tarleton rodeo team has been part of a winning tradition since 1947. Tarleton teams have won seven national titles and 27 individual national championships.