Mesalands rodeo team sets record

Russell Anglin

At the third annual Mesalands Community College Rodeo championship round Saturday night, the Mesalands rodeo team set a new school record for team points earned in a single rodeo. The men’s team placed first in the rodeo and the women’s team placed third.

Mesalands put points on the board early in the Saturday competition, with sophomore J2 Bridges sweeping the bareback competition on a 74-point run.

Bridges, who said he has been personally involved in rodeo at some level for the past 10 years, attributed his team’s performance to coaching.

“Lots of practice, coach being on our butts, getting us out there, making us do some stuff in practice and keeping us going,” Bridges said.

New Mexico State University’s Johnny Salvo took the tie-down roping competition with a 10.1-second run. Breakaway roping went to Olivia Train, also of NMSU, although Mesalands’ Shelby Rita beat Train’s second go-round by one tenth of a second. Rita, a freshman, won the Women’s All-Around title, according to a Mesalands press release. It was her first college rodeo.

Cooper Dewitt of NMSU swept the saddle bronc competition with scores of 71 and 62. Mesalands’ Ty Nuffer and and Fran Merchand placed third and fourth.

Freshman Tyler McCormick of Mesalands held the steer wrestling event with a 4.4-second takedown. He said he wants to dismiss allegations from rodeo opponents that he “got lucky” Saturday night with consistent performances in future weeks. Mesalands freshmen Austin Woods and Tyrell Virden placed second and fourth in the event.

Travis and Tyler Whitlow of Central Arizona College won team roping. Northland Pioneer College’s Megan Stock swept the barrel racing event. Stock nearly tipped over her second barrel but reached down to keep it in place, securing the win.

Mesalands enjoyed a one-two finish in bullriding, with Fran Merchand and Jordan Spears holding on to score championship runs of 85 and 80 points, respectively. Merchand won the Men’s All-Around title.

Head rodeo coach C.J. Aragon said he anticipates similar returns from his team when they head to Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz. to compete this weekend.

“We’ll probably change the team up just a little bit for down there just because the arena conditions, so I’ll probably go with a few more rough stock riders down there,” Aragon said. “We had three guys place in bareback riding (Saturday night), three guys place in bullriding and two in saddle bronc riding. We did really well in those events and I think that’s one of our strengths, so we’re going to play to those strengths.”