Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - Six New Mexico State University rodeo team members qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo as the men's and women's teams closed out the regular season with weekend wins at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.
"This was a great way to finish at home," said coach Jim Dewey Brown. "We're in good position going into the conference and national finals."
Four men and two women earned byes to the CNFR June 8-14 in Casper, Wyo., by finishing at No. 1 or No. 2 in the regional point standings. Others will have a second chance to qualify at the conference finals rodeo May 29-31 in Hobbs.
Mandy Sproul, national leader in the women's all-around standings, will represent NMSU in barrel racing and goat tying. She finished with the region's highest totals in both events, racking up 595 points in barrel racing and 595.5 in goat tying.
Clay Snure, first in regional men's all-around standings, wrapped up first place in calf roping with 423.5 points.
In team roping, heeler Kody Gentry earned a bye with a first-place regional total of 176.5 points. Jarred Evans was second in the standings as a header, qualifying with 123 points.
Jordan Davis, second in the region in bullriding, earned a bye with 159 points.
Breakaway roper Leah Stevenson finished second in the region with 331 points. "She missed first place by just seven points," Brown said. "It came down to the last calf on Saturday."
During the weekend rodeo, the women's team, which is leading the national standings, accumulated another 360 points to protect the lead.
Sproul had a runaway all-around victory with 295 points, winning the average in barrel racing and goat tying, and finishing second in breakaway roping. As proof of her consistency, she posted times of 17.82 and 17.8 in barrel racing and 8.4 and 8.3 in goat tying.
In saddlebronc riding, Taylor Smith was second in the average with 139 points on two rides. Davis was third with a 75 on one ride.
Buddy Robinson, who won the long go in steer wrestling with a time of 5.6 seconds, was third in the average with a 13.6. Snure won the short go with a 4.8.
Calf roper Brett Acuna posted his first win of the season, accumulating enough points to compete in the conference finals. Acuna was first in the short go with a 9.6. John Pete Etcheverry, who won the long go with a 10.5, was second in the average.
In team roping: Dylan Salvo and Kody Gentry won the average and finished first in the short go with a 7.5. Lee Kiehne and Aaron Thomas were fourth in the average.
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