WTAMU rodeo team says ‘howdy’ to the season

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Darcy Lively

WTAMU rodeo team is looking to compete in the College National Finals Rodeo.

The West Texas A&M University rodeo team puts the steps back into the arena this season and is looking to not only be competitive, but qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming in June of 2021.

Like many other sports, COVID-19 was to blame for the cancelation of college rodeo. Luckily, the Buffaloes get to strut their stuff on the dirt. The rodeo team has already competed in eight rodeos so far with two more to go.

“There are 17 schools in our region, the Southwest Region. In college rodeo, there aren’t size classifications like D1 and D2, we are all equal for rodeo,” said Jordan Fabrizio, assistant rodeo coach at WTAMU. “We compete against some bigger schools like Tarleton, Texas Tech and Eastern New Mexico University, who are all tough schools.”

There are 40 athletes looking to represent WTAMU and only three advance in each event per region, with the Southwest Region being one of the most competitive.

Several students have a chance at making the College National Finals Rodeo, including Owen Walhert and Kallen Johnson for calf roping, and Hayden Cape and Weston Howell for team roping.

Being competitive against larger schools is impressive, but staying consistently successful like WTAMU Rodeo is almost unheard of.

Just as the students compete in these events, so do their animals. Freshman calf roper, Kallen Johnson explained how his horse, Hidalgo, feels about the rodeo life.

“He loves it. Every time I get him out of the pen he’s standing at the gate waiting for me,” Johnson said.

The Canyon community has played a large role in the success of the WTAMU rodeo team. There were over 20 scholarships awarded last year.

“We are blessed to have the College of Agriculture and the community behind our program. Without them and their support, we would not be able to do what we do,” Fabrizio said.

The two final rodeos of the semester both take place in April. The rodeo at Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas will be April 15-17, 2021 and Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas will be April 22-24, 2021.

For more information on the College National Finals Rodeo or the Southwest Region, visit their websites.

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