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Lady Coyotes 2nd, Coyotes 6th at rodeo midseason

As the Weatherford College rodeo program works to represent itself for a 15th consecutive year at the 2019 College National Finals Rodeo, they must feel confident in their quest so far.

As the season hit the midpoint with the conclusion of the recent Texas Tech Rodeo, the Lady Coyotes are second in the Southwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association with 975 points, and the Coyotes are sixth among the men with 1,290.

The Lady Coyotes, who are also ranked 20th in the nation, are in prime position to advance as a team to nationals with an equally strong second half. Only once has WC sent an entire team to nationals when the men did so in 2014.

The top two teams and the top three individuals in each event will advance to nationals. Tarleton leads among the women in the Southwest Region with 1,655 points, while Clarendon College is at the top of the men’s standings with 1,850.

“We have had a pretty good first half, especially the girls’ team, and especially the barrel racers,” head coach Johnny Emmons said.

The Lady Coyotes won barrel racing in all five fall rodeos in which the team competed, with four different winners. Kelly Valdez won in Portales, New Mexico, and in Brownwood. Laney Fowler won at Texas Tech, Bristan Kennedy won at Vernon and Shaylee Hindman won at West Texas A&M.

In the national standings, Valdez is 10th, Kennedy 22nd, and Laney Fowler 25th. In the Southwest Region, Valdez leads with 425 points, Kennedy (300) is fourth, Fowler (285) is fifth, Hindman (200) is eighth and Sloan Anderson (100) is tied for ninth.

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Faith Holyan stands tied for ninth among breakaway ropers with 100 points (420 leads), and Valdez is tied for 12th with 90.

Two team ropers are also among the national leaders. Kade Smith is 11th among headers, and Blake Bentley is 11th among heelers. In the region, Smith is second with 320 points (15 out of the lead), Lane Cooper is seventh with 220, Garrett Sommer is ninth with 170 and Jarrett Freeman is tied for 12th with 100.

Among the heelers in the region, Bentley is second with 320 points (15 out of lead), and Kirby Blankenship is seventh with 220.

In steer wrestling, Tate Thomas has 240 points and is second (25 out of first), and Scott Martell (110) is 12th.

Leighton Berry (310) is fifth in bareback (510 leads), Trent Nugent (100) is seventh in bull riding (540 leads) and Kasen Brennise (170) is sixth in tiedown roping. Coy Arnold (85) is 15th in tiedown.

Berry has been battling injuries but has still placed in three rodeos.

“If you ask him, he would expect to be first,” Emmons said. “So hopefully he will come back strong in the spring and give our guys’ team the boost he is more than capable of doing.”

Cooper and Blankenship are the defending team roping champions in the region, advancing to nationals last season. After a slow start, they have placed in three consecutive rodeos.

The men’s top team finish was second at West Texas A&M, and they were fourth at Tech.

Emmons said he has been most impressed by the overall depth of his teams, especially the freshmen. Almost half of the competitors (23) has made at least one short-go, with 10 freshmen already winning points this season.

And while the college season doesn’t resume until after the first of the year, Emmons said there is really no off-season in rodeo.

“Many of our members compete on a weekly basis all year long,” he said. “I always encourage them to keep entering and competing as much as they can to stay sharp, and, of course, most importantly stay healthy.”

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