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LAS CRUCES - After success at the final two rodeos of the season, New Mexico State University will send 11 team members to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo June 13-19 in Casper, Wyo.
The NMSU men's and women's teams put it all together at back-to-back rodeos April 16-17 at Cochise Community College in Sierra Vista, Ariz., capturing first place in the Grand Canyon Region.
"We had an excellent, excellent rodeo," said coach Jim Dewey Brown. But the competition was close. "It came down to the last calf, the last goat, the last bronc, the last steer in just about every event."
The men's and women's teams won the second day of competition. The NMSU men were second and the women tied with two other teams for first on the first day.
NMSU's Clay Snure of Rodeo won the men's all-around the first day and Mandy Sproul of Pearce, Ariz., won the women's all-around the second day. Both finished the year leading regional all-around standings, and will compete at the national finals.
Others riding and roping their way to nationals were bullrider Justin Sanderlin of Morenci, Ariz.; roper and steer wrestler John Pete Etcheverry of Carlsbad; and team ropers Jared Davis of Tombstone, Ariz., Jarred Evans of Apache Creek, Kody Gentry of Dell City, Texas, and Aaron Thomas of La Mesa.
Other NMSU women earning the trip to nationals were Janelle Manygoats of Winslow, Ariz., and Keli Smith of Hobbs, in breakaway roping; and Misty Fudge of Big Horn, Wyo., in goat tying.
Last year NMSU sent four men and two women to nationals.
At the April 16-17 rodeos, Snure led the men's team as it dominated the calf roping, winning both days.
The NMSU men also overwhelmed the competition in team roping, taking second through sixth places for both header and heeler the first day and capturing first, fourth and sixth places as header and heeler and fifth place as heeler the second day.
Winning for NMSU the second day were header Buddy Robinson of Mesilla Park and heeler Etcheverry.
NMSU's women swept top honors in breakaway roping, with Sproul and Brooke Wimberly of Bosque taking firsts. Sproul also had second-place finishes in the goat tying both days, with Fudge finishing in third in the April 16 rodeo.
NMSU's men were solid in steer wrestling, with Jacob Simmons of Chelan, Wash., winning the event April 17, followed by Etcheverry in second.
Brown expects team leaders Sproul and Snure to compete well at nationals.
"They'll do just fine; they always do," Brown said.
He said Robinson, a senior, had one of his best rodeos.
The coach also praised his younger competitors, such as freshmen Bodie Baize of Anthony, Clay Acuna of Santa Fe, Tommy Etcheverry of Carlsbad, Callie Rios of Clint, Texas, Katrina Stackpole of Tijeras and sophomore Monte Topmiller of Silver City.
"I've got a good bunch coming up next year," Brown said. "We'll be all right."
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