Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, email@example.com
LAS CRUCES - To boost Aggie pride during homecoming week, New Mexico State University's rodeo team will host a collegiate competition Oct. 29-30 and an alumni roping event Oct. 31.
The first performance Oct. 29 starts at 7 p.m. at the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds. Admission is free for students with NMSU identification, $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under.
On Oct. 30, the top 10 short-go performance will run from 2 to 4 p.m., giving fans time to get from the fairgrounds to the stadium for tailgating and a 6 p.m. kickoff as NMSU hosts Florida International.
"What's better than watching two Aggie sports teams beat their competition on homecoming weekend?" asked NMSU rodeo coach Jim Dewey Brown.
On Oct. 31, the second annual NMSU alumni rodeo starts at 11 a.m., also at the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds. Admission is free.
The Aggie rodeo team, one of the university's most successful competitive programs, has almost tripled in size since 2002. This year's team has already excelled in the Grand Canyon Region this fall, with the women in first place and the men in second.
In the past two years, the Aggies have won two women's and men's regional championship titles. The team finished in 12th place in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in 2003 and in 11th place in 2004. In national competition, NMSU had two top five finishers in 2003 as well as third- and eighth-place winners in 2004.
"The Aggies have experienced a massive growth spurt due to the fact they are one of the top rodeo programs in the region, and in the nation for that matter," Brown said. Membership has grown from 24 in 2002 to 60 this fall. NMSU makes up half of the Grand Canyon Region's total membership. The Aggies are third in number of members nationally, behind Tarleton State University (80 members) and the University of Wyoming (65 members).
Brown said rodeo athletes differ from other college athletes in that they must pay entry fees for the rodeos they attend (10 each season, plus the College National Finals Rodeo). They are eligible to win back that prize money depending on how they perform. In most cases, they must place in the top four of their event.
"A lot of NMSU's rodeo athletes are fortunate to receive scholarships, but they pale in comparison to what these students are responsible for," Brown said. "Not only do they pay for books, tuition, fees and other school-related expenses, but also traveling to and from the rodeo, feed for their horses, shoeing, veterinary costs and expensive rodeo equipment."
To compete in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, student athletes must pass at least 12 hours per semester and maintain a 2.0 cumulative grade point average.
Brown said NMSU is fortunate to have a rodeo budget for scholarships, practice stock, travel funds and rodeo production money. Proceeds from NMSU-hosted fall and spring rodeos go toward daily expenses, such as feed for practice stock, equipment, uniform vests, tractor fuel and arena maintenance.
"For these fundraisers to be a success, we need the people to come out and watch and support the Aggies as they continue their dominance in the Grand Canyon Region," Brown said.
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