It’s rodeo season once again at Weatherford College, and those familiar with the program know each season begins with one main goal – to continue the tradition of sending qualifiers to the College National Finals Rodeo in Caspar, Wyoming.
For 13 consecutive seasons a place has been reserved for Weatherford College in the elite event. Last season freshmen Brogan Macy (Post) and Garrett Jacobs (Lemitar, New Mexico) took their place in Caspar, competing in barrel racing and roping. Macy was 24th overall and Jacobs 21st.
Along with the two of them being back, Coyotes coach Johnny Emmons is ecstatic over the freshmen he recruited.
“We have an outstanding freshman class. We have some of the best team ropers in the country,” Emmons said of the men’s team. “We are really loaded in team ropers.”
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Those ropers include newcomers Kirby Blankenship (Lampasas), Blake Bentley (Burleson), Lane Cooper (Weatherford), Cuyler Winters (Venus), Tucker Menz (Boerne), Sam Huffman (Belle Fourche, South Dakota), Preston Burgess (Hilmar, California) and Wyatt Hansen (Oakdale, California), along with returners Jace Davis (Capitan, New Mexico), Zach Varian (Parkfield, California), and Conner Riddle (Graham).
Along with Jacobs, Hansen and Jhett Jackson (Quitman) should score well all-around Emmons said, as each competes in three events. He’s also counting on freshman Leighton Berry (Weatherford) in bareback and Jack Mitchell (Twin Butte, Alberta) in saddle bronc.
“I think we have a good chance to qualify our [men’s] team this year,” Emmons said.
The only time WC qualified an entire team was in 2014.
As for the women, freshmen who could make a quick impact include Kelly Valdez (LaJunta, Colorado), Kelsey Hancock (Bowie), Hadley Butler (Meridian), Taylor Schmidt (Barrhead, Alberta), Haley Bowen (Longandale, Nevada) and Sara Angelone (Cross Junction, Virginia).
“They should all help chip in with sophomore CNFR qualifiers Aspyn Dent (Lipan) and Brogan, as well as Cheyeen Jinks (Terrell), Sloan Anderson (Whitehorse, South Dakota), Sadye Simpson (Nemo) and Lizzie Vaughn (Lipan), who all won points last year,” Emmons said.
Chemistry, a plus for success in any sport, has always benefited the WC Rodeo Team. Emmons said this season should be no different.
“Chemistry should not be a problem,” he said. “Most of these kids have been competing and have known each other through the National Junior High and National High School rodeo finals. Rodeo is a small world, and many of them have competed against each other for a few years now.”
The Coyotes’ fall season begins Sept. 14-16 in Portales, New Mexico, at the Eastern New Mexico University Rodeo. That will be followed by rodeos at Vernon College, Sept. 28-30; Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Oct. 5-7; Frank Phillips College in Borger, Oct. 12-14; and Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Oct. 19-21.
The teams will then take a break for the holidays and resume competing in the spring schedule after the first of the year, with the CNFR being held in June.