The Southern Utah University rodeo team welcomed the spring season with multiple athletes claiming points within their respective events during a three-day competition held at the Black Hawk Arena in Salina, Utah on March 4-6.
Rodeo athletes competed for two separate opportunities to gain points within their respective events throughout the weekend.
The three-day competition consisted of a two-day Snow College rodeo with preliminary rounds held on Thursday night and Friday morning followed by a final round with the top qualifying individuals competing for points on Friday night.
Then on Saturday, the athletes competed in the first regional rodeo of the year. The competition consisted of one single round in barrel racing, team roping and each of the other sanctioned rodeo events with points awarded to the top teams and individuals.
Over the course of the competition, four SUU rodeo athletes claimed top finishes within their events securing them individual and team points.
Senior rodeo team member Casey Thomas bested the field of team ropers in Saturday’s portion of the competition, earning him valuable points to extend his lead as the top team roping header in the region to 180 points.
Thomas’s teammate and fellow senior Erika Thigpen captured points Friday night in the breakaway roping and Saturday night in the team roping, breakaway roping and barrel racing to earn a sixth place finish in the women’s all-around.
Another senior, Macy Anderson, secured points in the goat tying event Friday night with a second place finish to currently put her 10th in the region for the event.
The final point earner for SUU was freshman Ian Filmore who nabbed points for a sixth place in the tiedown roping event in which he is currently seeded fourth in the region.
The points earned by the rodeo athletes will be instrumental in solidifying a top finish in the region and securing a chance to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo held in Casper, Wyoming every June.
“I didn’t get any points in the fall so I really needed them,” Thigpen said about her performance and accrued points.
Despite the unideal start to her senior year of rodeo, Thigpen is confident that she will still be able to gain enough points to earn a top spot in the region and a ticket to her second CNFR.
“There’s more rodeos in the spring so it’s more important,” she said. The fall rodeo schedule included just three competitions to earn points where the spring schedule will offer five.
Thigpen is excited to take on the remainder of the season with her points from the Salina contests providing momentum. “The spring is where it’s at for me,” she said.
Thigpen and her teammates will travel to Twin Falls, Idaho on March 12-13 for their next rodeo.
At these events SUU’s team of eight will compete against students representing nine other colleges and universities in the Rocky Mountain Region: College of Southern Idaho, Utah State University Eastern, Utah State University, Idaho State University, Snow College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Weber State University, Utah Valley University and Dixie State University.
Rodeo athletes compete in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association sanctioned events that are saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping.
The top finishers in each event are awarded points based on individual placing during a contest. These individual points are added to contribute to a team score and individual standing within the specific event.
Story and Photo by Mikyla Bagley