Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, (575) 646-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org
LAS CRUCES - With most of his top athletes back and promising new recruits, New Mexico State University Rodeo Coach Jim Dewey Brown is ready to build on the team's successes last season.
NMSU captured the 2004-2005 women's championship in the Grand Canyon Region and Aggie Bailey Gow won the regional women's all-around competition. A dozen NMSU athletes competed at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., last summer. Leading the Aggies was Nate Mortensen of Virden, N.M., who snared a national reserve championship as a team roper.
In this season's regional competition, Brown would like to see the women's team dominate and the men's team move to the top. "I'd sure like to get a men's team trophy," Brown said. "I need to pull the men's team up."
Mortensen and most of the men's team are back, although national qualifying bullrider Justin Sanderlin of Morenci, Ariz., and several others have either graduated or finished their eligibility for the team.
Brown focused on recruiting rough stock athletes. He has high expectations for transfers Jake Greenwood of Big Piney, Wyo., and Daniel Etsitty of Kayenta, Ariz., as well as returning Aggies Chance Van Winkle of Alto and Daren Albrecht of Veyo, Utah.
The women's team boasts a solid core of returning leaders, including Gow of Roseburg, Ore., Kayla Weiss-Lange of Great Falls, Mont., and Krista Norell of Meeker, Colo.
"They ought to take off right where they left off," Brown said.
The team has grown to about 70 members. Brown said NMSU's successes are helping attract top talent.
"We're a top, top team," he said. "These kids want to be part of this team."
A full roster of good athletes on the team makes it difficult for Brown to choose only 10 for each competition, but he's glad to have the talent.
"Having so many kids represent New Mexico State is awesome," he said.
The first rodeo of the season is Sept. 23-24 at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz. Other rodeos will be Oct. 7-8 in Gallup and Oct. 21-22 in Alamogordo. No home rodeo is scheduled this fall, which Brown said will give him and the team more time to focus on competition rather than organizing an event. NMSU will host a spring rodeo.
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