Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org
LAS CRUCES - When the dust settled Saturday night in the arena at the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds, the New Mexico State University women's rodeo team could say they were the best in the country.
"As of today, we're ranked number one," NMSU coach Jim Dewey Brown said Sunday afternoon. The women's team had to earn at least 50 points to claim the top ranking. They ended their weekend rodeo with 285 points, winning the regular season and qualifying a talented team that will compete for the national crown at the College National Finals Rodeo June 12-18 in Casper, Wyo.
It has been more than 20 years since a women's team has gone this far. Brown said an NMSU women's team captured the national championships in 1975 and 1976, and a team in the 1980s finished second one year. He attributes the success of the team to solid recruiting and multi-talented athletes.
"The top ranking shows everybody else that we're growing up and we're going to be a force," Brown said.
The NMSU women won the home rodeo and NMSU's Bailey Gow of Roseburg, Ore., won all-around honors. Gow was second in the breakaway competition, followed by teammates Janelle Manygoats of Winslow, Ariz., third, and Katrina Stackpole of Tijeras, fourth.
Gow also finished second in the barrel racing. NMSU's Wylene Penrod of Laveen, Ariz., was third.
In goat tying, NMSU's Kayla Weiss of Great Falls, Mont., was third. Krista Norrell of Meeker, Colo., tied for fourth.
The NMSU men finished in second place in the home rodeo and ended the season second in the Grand Canyon Region.
Clay Houston of Seminole, Texas, was second in the bareback riding and Clint Phillipps of Douglas, Ariz., was fourth in the saddle bronc riding for NMSU. Wacey Walraven of Datil was third in the calf roping.
The Aggie men dominated the team roping. Jarred Evans of Apache Creek and Dan Whitworth of May, Idaho, won the event. NMSU's Matt Garza of Mesilla Park teamed up with Chance Means of Central Arizona College for second. Aggies Nate Mortensen of Virden and Victor Perez of Corona were third, followed by Garza and Rene Rodriguez of the University of Arizona.
The results from Saturday night helped determine the members of the NMSU team who will compete at the national finals. The women's team will include Penrod, barrel racer Chelsee Byerley of Gallup, Gow, Weiss and Manygoats.
On the men's team are Houston, Phillipps, bullrider Justin Sanderlin of Morenci, Ariz., Mortensen, Garza and Walraven. Grand Canyon Region student director Arcel Allsup also will go and will be able to compete in one event.
Brown said the team will practice for a few more weeks, then members will practice on their own and continue to compete in other rodeos to hone their skills before the national finals.
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