Seven members of the Mesalands Community College Rodeo Team have qualified to compete in the 2014 College National Finals Rodeo by delivering strong performances at their final rodeo of the season April 26-27 at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
Mesalands brought home three championship titles and qualified enough student athletes to send the entire men’s team to the college finals.
“The NMSU Rodeo was fantastic! This was a stressful time to be a coach, but also a fun day to be a coach,” said Tim Abbott, Mesalands’ interim intercollegiate rodeo coach. “It was really exciting to see the student athletes execute what we have been working on all season.”
Abbott said team members kept their mental and physical composure throughout the rodeos, but some students had to perform very well in the last rodeos, he said, to secure CNFR spots.
During the season, rodeo teams in the Grand Canyon Region earn points through team and individual performances. Individuals ranking in the top three in each event qualify for nationals.
Sophomore Betty Pack of Aztec earned her ticket to the CNFR at the NMSU rodeo with an exceptional weekend in the breakaway roping event. Pack roped all three of her calves and was crowned the breakaway roping champion for the weekend, winning a buckle.
“I knew it was possible, I just had to convince myself that I could do it,” Pack said. “I’m excited and nervous at the same time to be competing at nationals, knowing that I will have to go out there and compete against other schools. Also, for a first-year coach to send seven students to nationals is pretty amazing.”
Before the title win, Pack had placed ninth in the region in breakaway roping. However, her chances to qualify were still alive as the third through 11th places were separated by less than 140 points.
In tie-down roping, sophomore Kit Pettigrew of Fort Sumner won the championship, earning a buckle and the privilege of competing in the nationals. Pettigrew also finished first in the regional year-end standings and brought home a saddle, as well. Before the NMSU competition, Pettigrew ranked second with 466 points, only six points from leading the region.
In team roping, sophomore Chaz Kananen (header) of Roy, Mont., and Steven Gaona (heeler) of Central Arizona College, took first in the short round and averaged 120 points.
Abbott said that he felt Kananen had the best run in team roping for the year. Kananen brought home the team roping championship title for the weekend and won a buckle. Kananen was also named the team roping regional champion for the year-end standings, winning a saddle. Gaona did not qualify for the college finals, so Kananen will be competing with teammate Morgan McVay (heeler), a sophomore from Sparks, Nev.
McVay started the NMSU rodeo fifth in the region, which meant he, too, had to perform well to qualify for the college finals. He placed first in the long round and placed in the average and in the short round. McVay took third place in the region by only two points, earning his ticket to the CNFR.
Three other members of the Mesalands Rodeo Team maintained their positions at the NMSU rodeo and will also be competing at the 2014 CNFR.
Sophomore Daniel Baeza of Chihuahua, Mexico, also earned his ticket to the 2014 CNFR. He finished the year-end standings in second place in team roping.
Sophomore Edmiles Harvey of Tsalini Spring, Ariz., was the first Mesalands qualifier for the college finals in bareback riding. He took third place in the year-end standings.
Sophomore Devren Meyers of Santa Fe finished the year in second place in bull-riding competition and will be competing at the college finals.
Before the NMSU rodeo, Meyers was second in the region with 306 points.
“It’s definitely a step above what we do at our college rodeos,” Myers said “The pressure is on when you make the college finals. You have to keep a clear mind and go at it like it’s just another rodeo, but it’s easier said than done.”
The 2014 CNFR will take place on June 15-21 at Casper, Wyo.