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WC Rodeo Team poised for Historic Season

In his own words, Weatherford College Rodeo Coach Johnny Emmons and his athletes are looking at history if certain things fall their way in the second half of the season.

“We have a lot of talent on both teams,” he said. “If they can get on a roll this spring, it could be our best year ever.”

As the second half begins with the Odessa College Rodeo Feb. 22-24, both the Coyotes and Lady Coyotes are third in the team standings of the Southwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. The top two teams and top three individuals in each event after the end of the regular season advance to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming June 11-17.

Weatherford has advanced at least one competitor to Casper in 13 straight seasons. In 2014 they qualified the entire men’s team.
“Things are going pretty good. If the year was over now, we would have a breakaway roper, barrel racer and three team ropers [qualify],” Emmons said. “Both teams are within striking distance of qualifying.

“I feel pretty good about where we are, because even as good as we have done, we can still do a lot better. Really, we have not had any bust-out or outstanding rodeos yet. We are a pretty young team (30 freshman) and have made some mistakes along the way, so that keeps me very excited moving into the spring semester. I think we have a decent shot at qualifying a few people to the CNFR, if not both teams.”

The Coyotes have 1,570 team points. Tarleton State leads with 1,990, and Odessa is second with 1,865.

The Lady Coyotes have 720 points. South Plains leads with 971, and Tarleton is second with 871.66.

Several Coyotes are among the national leaders. Lane Cooper is third in team roping-header with 435 points, 65 out of first. Kirby Blankenship is fourth in team roping-heeler with 435 (500 leads), and Jace Davis is 15th with 300 points.

In barrel racing, Sadye Simpson is 14th with 340 points.

In the regional standings, WC is represented by:

  • Cooper, first in team roping-header, 435
  • Blankenship, first in team roping-heeler, 435
  • Simpson, first in barrel racing, 340
  • Davis, second in team roping-heeler, 300
  • Leighton Berry, ninth in bareback, 130 points; eighth in tiedown roping, 140
  • Garrett Jacobs, tied for ninth in tiedown, 115 (CNFR qualifier last season); tied for fifth in team roping-heeler, 145
  • Tucker Menz, tied for eighth in team roping-header, 130
  • Bristan Kennedy, fourth in barrels, 250
  • Brogan Macy, sixth in barrels, 170 (CNFR qualifier last season)
  • Marki Cleveland, 12th in barrels, 115
  • Kelly Valdez, second in breakaway roping, 255 (265 leads)
  • Kaprina Jones, 15th in breakaway roping, 90
  • Aspyn Dent, seventh in goat tying, 135 (CNFR qualifier in 2016)

“Lane Cooper and Kirby Blankenship have a nice lead in team roping, and Jace Davis is second on the heeling side. I think all three of those guys have a great shot at making the CNFR,” Emmons said.

“Kelly Valdez is a very good roper, and I think she has a good shot at making the CNFR. Barrel Racers Sadye Simpson, Bristan Kennedy and last year’s CNFR qualifier, Brogan Macy, all have outstanding horses and are in position to make a strong run at the CNFR.”

Berry had to miss the first three rodeos of the season due to injury but has rebounded strong.

“Leighton is a standout bareback rider and has placed twice in tiedown roping,” Emmons said. “If he can contribute like I think he will and if Lane and Kirby can keep doing what they are and if we could get some other guys going up to par, our team has a pretty good shot at qualifying.

“Same thing with the girls. Our barrel racers, Kelly in breakaway and if we can get former CNFR qualifier Aspyn Dent back on a roll in goat tying they have a shot too.”

WC Rodeo Spring Schedule:

  • Feb. 22-24, Odessa
  • March 22-24, Ranger
  • April 5-7, Western Texas (Snyder)
  • April 12-14, Howard (Big Spring)
  • April 19-21, Tarleton (Stephenville)
  • June 11-17, College National Finals Rodeo (Casper, Wyoming)

The top two teams and top three individuals in each event at end of regular season qualify.

by Rick Mauch