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Rodeo Team clinches four championship titles and Coach of the Year Award

April 23, 2019

The four qualifiers for the College National Finals Rodeo from the Mesalands Rodeo Team: (left) AJ Kee, Grand Canyon Region Reserve Champion Bareback Rider; Roy Jackson, Grand Canyon Region Champion Bull Rider; Matt Hughes, Mesalands  Rodeo Coach and Grand Canyon Region Coach of the Year; Vinell Mariano, CNFR Qualifier in Bull Riding; Levi Gray, Grand Canyon Region Reserve Champion Bull Rider; and (not in photo) Hiyo Yazzie, Rookie of the Year.

Last weekend, the Mesalands Community College Rodeo Team brought home multiple championship titles and awards at the Grand Canyon Regional Rodeo in Socorro, NM. The Mesalands Rodeo Team ended the season with the following regional titles: championship bull rider, reserve championship bull rider, championship bareback rider, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. Four members of the Mesalands Rodeo Team will also be advancing to the 2019 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, WY in June.

The Men’s Team finished third at the regional rodeo and third in the year-end regional standings. The Women’s Team placed fifth in the year-end standings.

“We definitely did better this semester. This time, the Men’s Team ended the season third and only a few hundred points from second,” said Matt Hughes, Intercollegiate Rodeo Coach and Faculty Member at Mesalands. “We are continuously getting better and the overall the program is going in the right direction.”

For the first time in the program’s history, the Mesalands Rodeo Team will be sending three bull riders to the college finals.

Bull riders Roy Jackson of Tiller, OR and Vinelle Mariano of Pinedale, NM took the top two spots at last weekend’s rodeo. Jackson was also crowned the Grand Canyon Region Champion Bull Rider. He finished first in the region and 10th in nation in the year-end standings with 605 points. Jackson also earned his golden ticket to the college finals. Mariano was third in the year-end standings with 345 points. He will also be competing at the college finals. Bull rider Levi Gray of Dairy, OR, was second in the year-end standings with 385 points. He was crowned the Grand Canyon Region Reserve Champion Bull Rider. Gray earned his second consecutive qualification to compete at the 2019 CNFR. The final bull rider for the Mesalands Rodeo Team, Dawson Stutting of Queen Creek, AZ, placed fifth in the year-end standings with 166 points.

In bareback riding, AJ Kee of Farmington, MO, placed second at the rodeo and finished second in the year-end regional standings with 508 points. He was named the Grand Canyon Region Reserve Championship Bareback Rider, qualifying him for the college finals.

Hiyo Yazzie of Brimhall, NM, won the long round in the tie down roping event at the rodeo. He was second in the long round in team roping. Also at the rodeo, Yazzie was awarded Rookie of the Year and his horse won Horse of the Year. In the year-end regional standings, Yazzie placed fifth in team roping, 10th in tie down roping, and 10th in steer wrestling. Steer wrestler Chance Wilson of Hope, NM, was fifth at the rodeo and 15th in the year-end standings.

Team ropers David Martinez of Anton Chico, NM and Taylor Strohl of Clovis, CA finished in the top 10 at the rodeo. Also in team roping, Michael Lucero placed ninth in the year-end standings.

Delaney Gonzales of Grants, NM finisheds15th in goat tying in the year-end regional standings.

The 2019 CNFR is June 9-15, 2019 at the Casper Events Center, Casper WY.