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WC Ropers finish 10th at Nationals

Weatherford College’s Kirby Blankenship and Lane Cooper took 10th place in team roping at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming June 11-16.

CNFR WC 2018

The pair qualified for the prestigious event after winning the Southwest Region regular season championship. Blankenship is a heeler from Lampasas and Cooper, a header, is a Weatherford High School graduate.

Blankenship and Cooper had no time in round one Monday night at the Casper Event Center, but they came back to take second place in round two Tuesday night with a 5.9.

They finished fifth in round three with a 6.2 run, and advanced to Saturday night’s finals in sixth place. The suffered a no time in the finals and walked away as the 10th place team.

“They drew a couple of tough, hard-running steers in rounds one and four that Lane missed the head loop, but when he caught, Kirby was there in outstanding form to place twice,” said WC head coach Johnny Emmons. “Only two teams caught all four steers, so if they would have had a qualified run in the finals they would have easily finished third.

“I know they were really disappointed, but that’s the way it goes, and I am sure they will bounce back.”

Blankenship and Cooper were featured in ESPN3’s live coverage, which will be re-aired on ESPNU multiple times in August.

WC’s Kelly Valdez was a last-minute addition to the CNFR in breakaway roping due to an injury. After missing her first calf, she would have taken second place in round two with a 2.1, but was disqualified from the round on a protested “bell collar” catch rule. She made an impressive run of 1.9 in round three but broke the barrier, making it an 11.9. Valdez did win the Scholar Award from the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and looks forward to competing again next year.

“Overall, the CNFR didn’t go as well as we wanted, but I thought all three of our students represented very well and were very competitive,” Emmons said. “The best thing about it is they are all three freshmen and they gained some invaluable experience on the national stage that will help them going forward. I’m certainly looking forward to their sophomore year!”

This was the 14th consecutive year in which WC was represented at the CNFR.