Clovis native Hayden Moore always loved rodeoing. When college time came up, he decided winning didn't sound that bad, either.
Moore, who turns 19 on Wednesday, is a freshman at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari and competes on the rodeo team. The 2011 Melrose High graduate will be one of 10 MCC students heading to the College National Finals Rodeo, June 10-16 in Casper, Wyo.
It is the highest number in the history of the college's rodeo team, which this year set a national record with 9,705.5 points during the season.
Moore will be competing in steer wrestling, where he is ranked 23rd in the nation.
Q: What was your first experience with rodeo?
A: I started rodeoing when I was 7 years old. I started with roping calves and goat tying.
Q: What's your favorite part about doing rodeo now?
A: Meeting new people. It's been really fun, being able to go everywhere rodeoing.
Q: What do you remember most about growing up in Melrose?
A: Probably football, and that's about it. My junior (in football), that was a pretty good year.
Q: Why did you decide on Mesalands?
A: I thought about Borger in Texas and (South Plains Junior College in) Levelland and Eastern (New Mexico University). Those are all ones that offered me pretty big scholarships to go rodeo.
We get to practice every day (at MCC), and they're the No. 1 ranked rodeo college in the nation. It's pretty cool to rodeo for the No. 1 ranked college.
Q: C.J. Aragon, the coach at Mesalands, appears to be doing something right, based on the numbers. What's he like as a coach?
A: It's been good. It's been fun working with him. He's always out there, helping you and trying to make you better. He's out there from 2 o'clock to sometimes 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock at night.
Q: You lived in Clovis while you went to school in Melrose. While some of your classmates might have went to bigger cities, you went to a city much smaller than Clovis. How did you adjust?
A: Mainly, instead of doing stuff, we'll stay and do practice. That's about all we did. In Clovis, we practiced until it got dark. Here, we practice during the dark, too.
Most of my classes are in the morning, then I practice in the afternoons every day.
Q: How's the experience been so far?
A: It's been good, it's been pretty fun, especially being able to make the finals my freshman year.
Q: What did you think were your chances to get to the CNFR when the year began?
A: I always, always wanted to. I kept my hopes up and practiced hard to make it. I didn't plan on making it, but it was my goal to.
The top three out of each region in each event get to make it to the college finals. It was really close. It was a couple of points between third and fourth. It was a lot of pressure, having to know you had to perform your best to make sure you're still making it.
Q: You're going in steer wrestling, so we can assume you're good at that. But sometimes the things we like doing aren't always the things we're the best at. Is your favorite event steer wrestling, or something else?
A: It's steer wrestling. It's an adrenaline rush, pretty much.
Q: What's the worst part of a rodeo?
A: Probably practicing every day. Even if the weather's bad, you've still got to practice. You've got to keep your horses in shape.
Q: What's the best part?
A: It's pretty much the only sport you get paid in while you're in college. You don't get paid in football until you turn pro. It's fun getting paid; it's a fun hobby.
Q: What goals do you have, personal and team?
A: Really, I just want to keep practicing hard and come away with a check up there, or even a place up there at the college finals.
For the team, hopefully we can come back with the team title.
Q: Are you planning to rodeo this summer, and do you have a favorite rodeo to compete in?
A: I'll be rodeoing, probably every weekend. I go to so many, I really don't have a favorite.
Q: You're studying farrier science at the college. Are you looking for a job in that field, or will you try to do pro rodeo?
A: I want to try to go professionally. I'll just have to keep practicing hard, keep getting better.
— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Kevin Wilson, and edited for flow and clarity