Rodeo team finishes strong at national finals

Kimberly Hanna

The Mesalands Community College Rodeo Team was well-represented at the 2011 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, Wyo. June 11-18. Six freshmen and two sophomores competed for Mesalands during the eight-day event at the Casper Events Center.

Freshman Tyrel Virden of Alamogordo finished the short round in eighth place and then missed his final steer. He still competed well, ending his season twelfth in the nation in steer wrestling.

“Ty did well at nationals. He had some really good runs on the steer he drew,” C.J. Aragon, Mesalands rodeo coach, said.

Virden said he expected to make it back to the short round and finish in the top five, but he said he is pleased on his overall performance.

“Overall, I am pretty thrilled how I did,” Tyrel Virden said. “I just wish I would have done better in the short round.”

Sophomore Fran Marchand of Omak, Wash. competed at the CNFR for his second consecutive year. Last year he placed 25th in bareback riding and 27th in the nation in bull riding. This year Marchand finished 22nd in the nation in saddle bronc riding and tied for Thirteenth in bull riding with freshman Jordan Spears of Palo Cedro, Calif.

“The bulls were extremely tough. There were only 12 riders to cover bulls this year,” Aragon said. According to the Casper Star Tribune, the bulls at the CNFR bucked off a total of 104 riders this year.

Freshman KC Peterson of Animas competed at nationals for the first time in bareback riding and finished nineteenth in the nation.

“KC had some impressive rides this year. He did a great job,” Aragon said.

Fellow freshmen Michael Ortega and Dominic Silva of Los Lunas had their first taste of nationals, competing in team roping and finishing nineteenth in the nation.

Freshman Shelby Rita of Sunset Beach, Hawaii, represented the women’s team at nationals and finished twentieth in barrel racing.

Sophomore J2 Bridges of Hazelton, Idaho competed at the CNFR for his second consecutive year. Last year he finished seventh in bareback riding and 24th in steer wrestling. This year Bridges took 33rd in bareback riding. Aragon said Bridges did well at nationals, considering the second horse he bucked off has the highest marked ride at the CNFR. Overall, Aragon said he is proud of the students’ performance at nationals.

“They did great! We took eight students this year and other than one, all of the students finished in the top 25 in the nation. That’s really impressive and we will definitely be back next year,” Aragon said.

The Mesalands Community College Rodeo Team will kick of the 2011-2012 season at home when they host the first Grand Canyon Regional Rodeo of the year, September 16-17 at the Quay County Fairgrounds.