Rodeo athletes qualify for national finals
May 1, 2019
Four rodeo athletes from Mesalands Community College qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo after recently competing at the Grand Canyon Regional Rodeo in Socorro.
These Mesalands athletes advanced to nationals: bull rider Roy Jackson of Tiller, Oregon; bareback rider AJ Kee of Farmington, Missouri; bull rider Vinelle Mariano of Pinedale and bull rider Levi Gray of Dairy, Oregon. It also was Gray's second consecutive College National Finals Rodeo berth.
Mesalands rodeo coach Matt Hughes also earned Coach of the Year honors.
The College National Finals Rodeo will be June 9-15 at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming.
Jackson, a reserve champion in bull riding at the Socorro rodeo, finished 10th in the nation in year-end standings and first in the region with 605 points. Gray finished second the region's year-end standings with 385 points. Mariano was reserve champion at Socorro and finished third in the regional year-end standings with 345 points.
Mesalands' fourth bull rider, Dawson Stutting of Queen Creek, Arizona, finished fifth in the regional year-end standings with 166 points.
Kee finished second in the year-end regional standings in bareback riding with 508 points.
Hiyo Yazzie of Brimhall, New Mexico, earned Rookie of the Year honors, and his ride won Horse of the Year. He won the long round at Socorro in the tie-down roping event and second in the long round in team roping. In the year-end regional standings, Yazzie finished fifth in team roping, 10th in tie-down roping and 10th in steer wrestling.
Mesalands' men's team finished third overall at the regional rodeo and third in the year-end standings. The college's women's team was fifth in the year-end standings.
"We definitely did better this semester. This time, the men's team ended the season third and only a few hundred points from second," Hughes said. "We are continuously getting better and the overall the program is going in the right direction."
Mesalands steer wrestler Chance Wilson of Hope was fifth at the rodeo and 15th in the region's year-end standings.
Team ropers David Martinez of Anton Chico and Taylor Strohl of Clovis, California, finished in the top 10 at the rodeo. In team roping, Michael Lucero finished ninth in the regional year-end standings.
Delaney Gonzales of Grants finished 15th in goat-tying in the year-end regional standings.