Rodeo team likely regional champs

Kimberly Hanna

After competing at the Northland Pioneer College Rodeo last weekend, the Mesalands Community College men’s rodeo team is currently ranked first in the Grand Canyon Region. The women’s team also represented well, finishing in fourth place. C.J. Aragon, Mesalands rodeo coach, said even with one more rodeo left for the season, the men’s team has a good chance in securing the Grand Canyon Regional Championship title.

According to Aragon, the team’s success is due to high expectations.

“In the beginning of the semester, we sat the rodeo students down and told them that we don’t expect anything less than their best,” Aragon said. “This year the students have not only reached our goals, but far exceeded our expectations.”

One of those students competing exceptionally well this year is Fran Marchand from Omak, Wash. At the last rodeo competition, Marchand brought home multiple titles, including the Men’s All-Around Championship title, Bull Riding Championship title and the Saddle Bronc Riding Championship title. He is also eighth place in the region in bareback riding.

“Fran is leading the nation in the all-around standings and has a chance to qualify for nationals in seven events,” Aragon said.

Shelby Rita of Sunset Beach, Hawaii, is another team member that has shined throughout the season. Rita is eighth place in breakaway roping and fifth in barrel racing.

“Both Fran and Shelby have done outstanding,” Aragon said. “They are definitely the MVPs of our men’s and women’s teams this year.”

Other individual standings include:

Michael Ortega/Dominic Silva – team roping champions

James Ellet – second place, steer wrestling

Jozrdan Spears – sixth place, bareback riding; second place, bull riding

Luke Hamilton – third place, steer wrestling

Chase Massengill – third place, team roping

KC Peterson – third place, bareback riding

Nicole Kline – fourth place, barrel racing

J2 Bridges – fifth place, bareback riding

Tyrell Virden – fifth place, steer wrestling

The last rodeo competition for the region will be at New Mexico State University, April 29-30.