Riders and ropers on the UVU rodeo team rode the red dirt of St. George last weekend in their first rodeo of the spring season. The men’s and women’s teams placed fourth and third respectively, featuring several first-place finishes by UVU cowboys.
Bareback rider Connor Kent took first in his event; despite being knocked unconscious both nights during his bareback and saddle bronc rides. “He’s our bubble guy”, first year coach Shane Draper jokingly said. “We have to keep him in a bubble or he tends to get hurt.” Kent’s rough style seems to serve the sophomore rider well; he is the Rocky Mountain region’s top bareback rider, leading his nearest competitor in the event by 200 points.
Colton Bair rode strongly in the bareback event to finish second after two nights of competition from other Utah schools and a strong team from the College of Southern Idaho. Bair is presently ranked fifth in the region, and teammate Nicholas Rydalch, not riding at St. George, is third among all contenders throughout the Rocky Mountains.
Another first place award went to Wolverine junior Jake Woolstenhulme, in the steer wrestling event. Woolstenhulme is the region’s top steer wrestler, barely leading teammate Baylor Roche. Roche’s seventh place finish at St. George belies his second place ranking in the region.
“Baylor just had a tough draw on his steer last weekend,” coach Draper said. “The steer kept cutting in front of his horse, making it tough for him to get down on him.”
Tori Thacker posted one of the fastest times of the entire rodeo; 2.5 seconds in the breakaway roping event. “That’s pretty danged fast,” Draper said. UVU women’s competitors faced tough competition from Utah and Idaho universities. Draper has a positive forecast for his cowgirls.
“The girls team struggled in the fall but are within 300 points of reaching second or third place,” the coach predicted. “That could be done in just one rodeo.” He explained that some competitors on his girls team had to sit out a few rodeos in the fall after transferring to UVU and that their present fourth place spot in the Rocky Mountain region reflects their absence.
Draper said that the men’s team is on track to qualify for the Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s national finals rodeo in June, and that the women’s team definitely is in the hunt for a spot at nationals.
The UVU home rodeo of the spring season will be just 25 minutes from Orem, in Heber, March 27-28. More information is on the teams website, found at www.uvu.edu/rodeo