|SHSU rodeo team members participating in the National Finals Rodeo include, from left, Cooper Shofner, Stephanie Jacks, Whitney Gibson, Lori Hardy and Ryan Little. Also participating but not in photo are Kassidy Jones and Nathan McWhorter, with John Martin participating in the event as a regional director.|
The nation’s best college cowboys and cowgirls from 11 different regions throughout the United States, including eight from Sam Houston State University, will participate in the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. June 15-21.
At stake will be team and individual titles. Events will include saddle bronc and bareback riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying.
The top three finishers in each event in each of the 11 regions and top two men’s and women’s teams in each qualifed for the National Finals. They will also be competing for over $200,000 in scholarships.
Participants from Sam Houston State include the entire women's team, which won their region. They include Lori Hardy (goat tying and breakaway roping), Stephanie Jacks (goat tying), Whitney Gibson (barrel racing) and Kassidy Jones (goat tying).
Three of the men's team members will compete as individuals. They include Nathan McWhorter (team roping), Ryan Little (bareback bronc riding) and Cooper Shofner (steer wrestling). The SHSU men's team finished third in regionals, failing to qualify as a team by one position. John Martin will participate in the event as a regional director.
The week-long event kicks off with two special “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway,” performances on Sunday, June 15th, a matinee at 1 p.m. and an evening performance at 4 p.m. All remaining performances begin at 7 p.m., including the Saturday championship round. Slack events for contestants not performing during the regular sessions will be held at 7 a.m. Monday and Tuesday.
In addition to the SHSU students who are competing, several SHSU rodeo team alumni are planning to attend a reunion during the event. Sonny Sikes, who was a multi-event champion as a student and later worked as a SHSU professor and rodeo team coach, will be joined by men and women from the 1968 rodeo team.
That year they won both team trophies, being the first school to accomplish that feat. All three of the women and three of the six men are expected to be in Casper.
The reunion is part of the NIRA's celebration of 60 years of competition. Sikes has been involved for more than 50 years. He was elected NIRA commissioner and served 18 years in that position--1961-1979. In 2006 he was voted a NIRA Distinguished Alumni. As a student participant, Sikes was SHSU's first national champion and won five national championships, including two each in 1953 and 1955 and one in 1956. He was named winner of the SHSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999.
Also attending this week's events in Casper will be Jimmie Gibbs Munroe, who won the national barrel racing event as well as all-around title in 1974. From 1974 until 1988, Munroe followed the professional rodeo circuit as a full-time barrel racer. In 1975, she was not only the world champion barrel racer, but also the tie-down roping and all-around champion in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.
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