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Valdez added to WC Rodeo Nationals Team

Everyone has wanted something special that becomes even more special when they didn’t have to buy it themselves.

Kelly ValdezWeatherford College freshman Kelly Valdez is feeling that way now after learning she is a late addition to the breakaway roping competition at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, June 9-16.

“When Kirby (Blankenship) and Lane (Cooper) made it I was going to go and watch them, but now I don’t have to buy a ticket,” Valdez said with a chuckle.

Blankenship and Cooper, also freshmen, qualified after winning the Southwest Region in team roping.

This is the 14th consecutive year in which Weatherford College will be represented at the CNFR.

Valdez, who finished fourth in the regular season standings of the Southwest Region, advanced to nationals after third-place finisher Madison Milligan of Cisco broke her arm in an automobile accident. Valdez said the scenario, while she is excited about competing, is somewhat bittersweet.

“When I heard Madison got hurt I felt bad for her. She roped so well,” Valdez said. “But still, it happened, and I’m just glad I was fourth. Still, I wish we both could have gone.”

Weatherford College Coach Johnny Emmons said Milligan had planned on competing with a cast on her arm, but after attempting to practice decided that she would not be able to be competitive.

“This has not happened for WC before, but it is not unusual for the CNFR,” Emmons said. “It’s rodeo, accidents happen, injuries are common in this sport. Although Milligan’s injury was not from rodeo it is still unfortunate for her to miss the CNFR.”

Valdez, a La Junta, Colorado, native, led the Southwest Region through six rodeos before a second-half slump. Still, she was edged by only 20 points for a national’s berth.

“I am really excited about Kelly competing in Casper. She is deserving and will be a threat to win it all,” Emmons said. “Kelly had a couple of bad draws and a missed calf at the end of the year that kept her from winning the region. Only a few points separated the top six girls in the region.”