The first Intercollegiate Rodeo of the 2008/2009 rodeo season for the Grand Canyon Region will be on Friday and Saturday in Tucumcari.
The rodeo will feature Grand Canyon teams from New Mexico and Arizona, including recent winners of national and regional championships, said Mesalands Rodeo Team Coach C.J. Aragon.
The competition begins Friday at 6 p.m. at the arena at the Quay County Fairgrounds.
Hosted by Mesalands Community College’s Rodeo Team, several of its 44 team members will also give the competition an international flavor.
Among Mesalands’ Rodeo Team students are four from Canada and one from Australia.
“Last year we had two international students on the rodeo team, brothers Jeff and Cody O’Donnell from Alberta Canada,” Aragon said.
Cody O’Donnell graduated last year, but Jeff O’Donnell won the Grand Canyon Regional title last year in the steer wrestling.
And Jeff O'Donnell has returned to Mesalands and plans to to defend his title, in addition to competing in the team roping and tie-down roping.
“I came down here to rodeo with my brother and it worked out well last year. I went home for the summer and told Thomas and Kurtz about the rodeo team and they decided to come down as well,” said O’Donnell, who is a second-year farrier science student.
Now, Thomas McNeil, and Justin Kurtz of Alberta and Shane Meeres of British Columbia, Canada, are on the team.
McNeil works both ends of the arena. As a timed event contestant he competes in the team roping, and on the rough stock end of the arena he competes in the bull riding.
Kurtz is a steer wrestler, who like O’Donnell would like to do well in his first year of competition.
Meeres is a multi-event contestant at the timed event end of the arena. He competed this summer at the High School National Finals Rodeo in Farmington in the tie-down roping and the steer wrestling. He also competes in the team roping.
The longest trip to join the team was made by Australian, Lachlan O’Neill. O’Neill also competed at the High School National Finals in the steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding. He also rides bulls.
Aragon said is pleased with the addition of the international students. “These five guys have a lot of talent, plus they all are willing to work. We should have some competitive practices all year.”
In addition, this year there are several rodeo team members who are in the Wind Energy Program. The variety of programs, including the new Wind Energy helps to recruit students to the college and rodeo team, Aragon said.
“We are able to get a lot done at Mesalands because of the support from the school. We do not have the budget some of the bigger schools have, but we have everyone’s support and that helps a lot,” Aragon said.