Mesalands men’s rodeo team ranked first in nation

Russell Anglin

What happens when a rodeo team tops the national college ranks and exceeds its goal of 5,000 points for a season?

According to senior Chase Massengill, sophomore J2 Bridges and freshman Jordan Spears, it sets a new goal. This time the Mesalands Community College men’s team is looking to break 1,000 points at a single rodeo, a feat the students said they haven’t seen done in this region.

The men’s team is currently ranked first in the nation by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, outranking all other community and four-year colleges. The NIRA lists the men’s team with 5,421points. New Mexico State University is currently ranked second with 4,734 points.

Spears currently leads the nation in bull riding and Marchand is ranked seventh. Tyrel Virden is the seventh-ranked steer wrestler.

Fran Marchand and Bridges are currently the nation’s first and second place men’s all-around rodeo athletes, respectively, and Jordan Spears is ranked sixth. Marchand is the nation’s sixth-ranked saddle bronc rider. Bridges is the third-ranked bareback rider in the nation.

First-year rodeo student Shelby Rita is ranked sixth in barrel racing.

Marchand credited the team’s success to coach C.J. Aragon.

“Without his hard dedication to get us involved, get us going in here, and trying to make it fun for us, I don’t think we would have had this success as a rodeo team,” Marchand said. “We work hard, but the thing that we like about this, I’ve got to say … is that we’re having fun doing it. No one here butts heads and … if there’s a weak person, we don’t leave that weak person behind. If one person’s struggling, that means we’re all struggling.”

Aragon, in turn, commended his rodeo team, and said practice was the key to its success. He said his athletes take their sport seriously, typically practicing seven days a week. The team even practiced in the Mesalands outdoor arena throughout the winter.

“When I have a good group of kids like this I don’t have to do a whole lot because they kind of push themselves and keep themselves motivated. It’s just fun to sit there and watch them get better and win,” Aragon said. “A lot of times I have the best seat in the house to watch them.”

The team has two more chances to reach its new goal this year. The rodeo teams travels to Taylor, Ariz. April 22 and 23, and to Las Cruces April 29 and 30.