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LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State University rodeo team members brought their gear, regional momentum and a lot of determination to the College National Finals Rodeo, which started Sunday in Casper, Wyo.
"It's what they worked for all year. I think we're ready to go," said NMSU coach Jim Dewey Brown.
Eleven NMSU competitors qualified for the finals. The event continues through the week, with final competition set for Saturday.
Leading the team are Mandy Sproul of Pearce, Ariz., who is the fifth-ranked competitor in the nation in women's all-around standings, and Clay Snure of Rodeo, N.M., who is ranked sixth in the nation in men's all-around.
Sproul is fifth in the nation in goat tying and eighth in breakaway roping.
Snure leads the nation in tie-down roping and is 21st in steer wrestling.
Brown expects Sproul and Snure to compete well at nationals.
Other nationally ranked Aggies are bull rider Justin Sanderlin of Morenci, Ariz., fourth; steer wrestler John Pete Etcheverry of Carlsbad, 19th; team roping header Jarred Evans of Apache Creek, N.M., fourth; and team roping heelers Kody Gentry of Dell City, Texas, 11th, Aaron Thomas of La Mesa, N.M., 13th, and Jared Davis of Tombstone, Ariz., 18th.
Other NMSU women earning the trip to nationals are Janelle Manygoats of Winslow, Ariz., and Brooke Wimberly of Bosque, N.M., in breakaway roping; and Misty Fudge of Big Horn, Wyo., in goat tying.
Last year NMSU sent four men and two women to nationals.
In team standings, the Aggie women are ranked fifth in the nation, while the men are 11th. Both NMSU teams finished the season as champions in the Grand Canyon Region.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the high national ranking, both with the teams and the student athletes," said Frank DuBois, former secretary/director of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, who helped establish rodeo scholarships at NMSU. "I'm proud that Clay and Mandy were two of my first recruits for the DuBois Scholarship. I hope we can continue to recruit those kind of student athletes to the NMSU rodeo program."
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