If the Fort Hays State University rodeo team didn’t realize how tough the competition was at their last rodeo in Manhattan, it definitely became evident at the Garden City Community College Rodeo this past weekend. As the College National Finals Rodeo nears, the hundreds of contestants competing each weekend are starting to get quicker, sharper, stronger and better-practiced.
The GCCC Rodeo marks the first time of the 2009-2010 season that FHSU didn’t have at least one member qualify for the short-go round of competition, the finals round of a rodeo. In rodeo, a missed qualification to the short-go does not mean that someone is not capable of doing so; it just means that some little mistake, bobble, wrong move or simply a bad draw kept him or her out of those elite 10 who qualify.
Missed loops, knocked-over barrels and a buck off seemed to be FHSU’s biggest setbacks in Garden City. And with 625 total entries, one can imagine how stiff the competition was.
The last qualifying time in the breakaway roping for the short-go was three seconds. Jennifer Sherman, junior, roped her calf in 3.8 seconds, and Nikki Brobst, junior, also had a clean run in 5.3 seconds. Brobst was roping off her new horse, which had never been to a rodeo before.
“I was happy with how well he did for never going to a rodeo before,” Brobst said. “The only problem we had was with the barrier, and that is an easy fix.”
In the barrel racing, junior Shea Henderson earned a 13.74 seconds and freshman Kadie Hays had a time of 13.82 seconds. The last qualifying time for the short-go was 13.43 seconds, just ahead of the two FHSU cowgirls.
Freshman Blair Jones and senior Cody Pratt also came close to qualifying for the short round in the team roping; but Pratt, the heeler, legged the steer, only catching one of its hind legs instead of two, resulting in a five-second penalty. Had the team made a clean run, Jones and Pratt would have made the final round sitting in 9th place, but the penalty left them with a time of 12.1 seconds.
Jones also was close to making the short-go in the steer wrestling, but had a little trouble getting his steer stopped, ending up with a time of 5.7 seconds. The last hole for the short-go was 5.3 seconds.
“I crawled off too early, and fresher steers are going to gain a couple gears when they see you,” Jones said. “When I crawled off, the steer kind of picked up speed a little and just made things get wide. So I had to jump at him, which made everything all out of place.”
Although the team members didn’t finish as well as they may have hoped this past weekend, their next rodeo provides a fresh start, a new weekend and a clean slate of competition. The team travels next to the Fort Scott Community College Rodeo, March 12-14.