After a three-weekend fall rodeo season that concluded at the Utah State University Eastern rodeo in Price on Oct. 9-10, the Southern Utah University rodeo team has several athletes poised to enter the spring season in contention for a region title within their respective events.
Among those SUU athletes in a top region spot is senior team roping header, Casey Thomas, who placed first at both the USUE rodeo over the weekend and the Utah State University rodeo in Logan on Sept. 25-26.
Thomas’s wins have secured him the number one spot for team roping headers at the close of the fall season. His 360 points earned from his two wins give him a sizable 130 point lead over the currently seeded second place header, Chase Goodey from USU.
Freshman Ian Fillmore, who competes in the team roping as a heeler and in the tie down roping event, has also had a strong showing for the SUU Rodeo team.
After a second place finish in the tie down roping at the USUE rodeo and a sixth place finish at the SUU rodeo on Sept. 11-12, Fillmore currently holds the second place region spot in the event with 175 points, just 60 points behind Idaho State University tie down roper, Zack Ekstrom.
Fillmore is also sitting tenth in the region for team roping heelers with a total of 70 points after placing at the USUE with his header and fellow SUU Rodeo athlete, Macey Anderson, who holds the tenth place spot for team roping headers in the region with her 70 points.
Another freshman, Kassidee Bates, is also sitting in contention at the sixth position in the region for the barrel racing event with 100 points earned after a third place finish at the SUU-hosted rodeo.
The SUU Rodeo team’s season will resume in the spring with the first rodeo held at Snow College in March. Other anticipated spring rodeos will be hosted by College of Southern Idaho, Idaho State University and Colorado Northwestern Community College.
At these rodeos, college athletes compete in National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association sanctioned events including saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping.
SUU team members have competed against seven of the 11 other Rocky Mountain Region schools competing this fall. The four teams absent have been sidelined by individual university decisions due to COVID-19 concerns, but may be present in spring competition.
Teams currently competing have had to adhere to COVID-19 precautions such as wearing masks when not competing and social distancing when possible.
The universities hosting events have had to gain approval from university officials and the NIRA by implementing safety measures for the audience such as adding sanitization stations around the venue and encouraging masks and social distancing.
As the athletes participate in their individual events, they earn points based on their placing after each two-day competition. Their placings are based on an average of the times or scores earned during both days of performance.
The individual event scores for each SUU team member is added up to determine a men’s and women’s team score. Currently, the SUU men’s team is sitting fifth in the region and the women’s team is sitting seventh.
At the conclusion of the spring rodeos, the first and second seeded men’s and women’s teams will qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo held every June in Wyoming. The top three individuals in each event will also qualify for the national contest.
Story by: Mikyla Bagley
Photos by: SUU Rodeo Facebook Page and Mikyla Bagley