The New Mexico State University rodeo team’s spring season kicks off this weekend in Casa Grande, Arizona. This will be its first of five rodeos held throughout Arizona and New Mexico in the coming weeks.
The NMSU rodeo team will compete against schools such as the University of Arizona, Mesalands Community College, Dine College, Navajo Technical University, Central Arizona College and Cochise College.
The team will travel to Casa Grande, Arizona, March 9 and 10; Tucson, Arizona March 16; Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona, March 23 and 24; Landmark Mercantile here in Las Cruces March 29-31; and Socorro, New Mexico, April 19-21 for the Grand Canyon regional finals.
This year’s team has many contestants who are sitting within the top five in the Grand Canyon Region. The NMSU men’s team is in the top three while the women’s team is currently leading the region.
In bareback riding, transfer students Dylan Riggins and Tyler Erickson are sitting in first and second place respectively. In an interview back in October, Riggins said in preparation for this upcoming season he planned to practice on bucking horses and spend time on the bucking machine and spur board.
Freshmen on the women’s NMSU rodeo team hold three of the top five spots in breakaway roping. Kasey Eaves holds the top spot while Abbie Shofner and Kaitlin Harwell sit in fourth and fifth place respectively.
For the tie-down roping, the men’s team has the top two places with Derek Runyan at first and Trevor Scott at second. In bull riding Justin Neill holds fourth in the region.
The goat tying is a tight race with Baylee Johnston dominating the top spot, freshman Lyndsey Orris at third, and graduate student Karly Welty sitting fifth.
“My mindset for all of the rodeos this semester is to take it one run at a time and continue to make smooth runs. Sitting first doesn’t change my game plan because I still have to practice hard and show up prepared. I am excited to get the season kicked off,” Johnston said.
The women’s team is dominating the barrel racing. Freshman Jayde Wamel is sitting first in the region and fourth in the nation. She says her goal is to still compete at the best of her ability and show up no matter what. Amy Bowditch, a freshman from Canada, is sitting second, with freshman Sienna Bruton in third, senior Carly Billington fourth and freshman Peyton McKinley holding fifth place.
“I anticipate that we will do very well — that our men’s and our women’s teams will step it up a notch and we will take both a men and women’s team to the CNFR, but only time will tell,” said NMSU head rodeo coach Logan Corbett.
With the spring season still left to go, there is a lot at stake for those trying to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo this June. At the end of the season, the top three competitors in the Grand Canyon Region for each event will head to the CNFR in Casper, Wyoming.
Kokopelli will post more updates on the NMSU rodeo team and information on the NMSU college rodeo week as the season continues.