The Southern Utah University rodeo team’s spring schedule was announced earlier this month and will include events hosted by two Utah teams previously sidelined during the fall.
After a three-rodeo fall season that wrapped up in October, SUU rodeo athletes are anticipating a seven-rodeo run that will feature events hosted by Weber State University on March 26-27 and Utah Valley University on April 16-17.
The spring rodeos will be the first of the season for the two Utah rodeo teams due to being unable to compete last fall.
After the final stretch of 2020 spring rodeos and the College National Finals Rodeo were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association gave collegiate teams the option to return to competition during fall semester.
This permission was granted on a university basis with allowance from both coaches and university authorities.
With pandemic concerns still high and outbreaks starting to already appear on some college campuses at the start of fall semesters in northern Utah, officials sidelined the rodeo teams from WSU and UVU.
This meant that not only would the teams be unable to host any events, but the athletes would not be allowed to travel to other universities to compete.
Despite missing the fall season, the two teams announced that they would not only be returning to competition in the spring, but would also be hosting events at their universities.
Teams across Utah, Idaho and Colorado make up the Rock Mountain Region. Each of these teams can host one event per season and invite each of the other schools to participate.
Those schools hosting the rodeo competitions are required to adhere to COVID-19 protocols for facilities, spectators and competitors as well as gain approval from state and local officials and the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
SUU was the first team to host its collegiate rodeo last fall. Rodeo coach Shane Flanigan had said that the approval was simple thanks to SUU’s COVID-19 response team, and the director of the NIRA personally called to commend the school.
Rodeo athletes will continue to adhere to COVID-19 protocols once the season begins. This will include wearing masks when not competing, social distancing when possible and taking temperatures and filling out a health report before each competition.
There are 10 teams in addition to SUU that make up the Rocky Mountain Region:College of Southern Idaho, Utah State University Eastern, Utah State University, Idaho State University, Snow College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Colorado Mesa, Weber State University, Utah Valley University and Dixie State University.
Each athlete earns points both individually and for their team in NIRA-sanctioned events including saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping.
At the conclusion of the spring rodeos, total points earned during the fall and spring events will be combined to determine the athletes who will compete in Caster, Wyoming at the CNFR in June.
SUU was able to represent at all three of the fall rodeos and has accrued points at these events. Thanks to these points, multiple SUU rodeo team members will enter the spring competitions in contention for region titles.
The spring rodeos will officially begin with the Snow College-hosted event on March 6-7. Updates and information about the SUU rodeo team can be found on their Facebook page.
Story by: Mikyla Bagley
Images by: SUU Rodeo Team Facebook