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— CNCC Spartan bull riders earn top honors at inaugural event —
RANGELY I Rainy spring weather didn’t keep Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) bull riders from earning top honors at the inaugural Spartan Showdown Rodeo over the weekend.
Freshman Brice Osborne (Rifle, Colo.) and sophomore Coty Cornia (Woodruff, Utah) split for first place in the long go competition before tying for first place overall, CNCC head rodeo coach Jed Moore said. Osborne and Cornia, who are currently in the running for two of three College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) qualifying seeds, learned this week they rank first and twenty-first in the nation in bull riding based on current points standings at www.collegerodeo.com.
“I know they are both very talented young men, but having this kind of success on the national level is a pleasant surprise,” Moore said.
Other CNCC athletes put out notable performances in the long go, which narrows the field to the top 10 competitors, and the short go, or championship round.
For the men’s team, Cornia placed second in the saddle bronc long go competition, earning fourth place overall. Team ropers Dax Hadlock (Montrose, Colo.) and Clay Crozier (Roosevelt, Utah) wowed the field in the long go with their fastest time of the year, a 6.0 run, but a five-second penalty in the short go netted them fourth place overall.
In the women’s competition, CNCC barrel racer Brinkley Phillips (Payson, Utah) claimed fourth in the long go, fourth in the championship round and fourth overall. It was Phillips’ best performance of the year, Moore said. Barrel racer Devon Vondette (Rifle, Colo.) earned sixth place in the long go but had problems with her horse during the short go and received no time.
The first rodeo held at Columbine Park in several years, the Spartan Showdown drew competitors from nine colleges and universities in the Rocky Mountain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). Approximately 200 athletes showed up, many of them vying for points to win one of the three top seeds in the region—and a ticket to the CNFR in Casper, Wyo., in June.
Final team standings at the Showdown put the CNCC men in fourth place, with the women taking eighth. College of Southern Idaho (CSI) men and Idaho State University (ISU) women claimed top honors at Columbine Park.
Moore said the opportunity to offer a home rodeo was a big one, especially considering that the team travels 4,200 miles during the regular season.
“My kids have been excited about hosting our own home rodeo all year and to not have to travel and to be able to sleep in their own beds,” Moore said.
Second-year CNCC dental hygiene student Jolene Holzfaster attended the rodeo with her husband, Titus. She remembers going to rodeos with her grandfather while growing up in Iowa but she hadn’t attended one for years.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” Holzfaster said. “It got a bit windy, but having the grandstands helped. The bull riding was my favorite to watch … and you can tell those students work hard with the horses.”
Athletes likely to earn spots at the CNFR include the College of Southern Idaho’s Orin Larsen, the Showdown’s bareback champion and second-place finisher in saddle bronc riding; CSI’s Rusty Wright, the weekend’s saddle bronc champion; and Idaho State University’s Kimberlyn Fehringer, the women’s barrel racing and breakaway roping champion.
This weekend’s Maverick Showdown at Colorado Mesa University will determine athletes’ final points standings for the CNFR. The last regular rodeo of the season, it’s also where team awards and Coach, Horse and Rodeo of the Year accolades will be handed out.
“I’ve heard from a lot of the rodeo contestants and coaches that they really liked our rodeo,” Moore said. “I think the Spartan Showdown could be in contention for Rodeo of the Year.”
Locals showed up in good numbers for the Showdown, though the rain and people not entering through the ticket gate were minor factors in attendance. The schools’ turnout was also good, even with the number of competitors down slightly from rodeos earlier in the year.
“It being late in the season, some athletes who don’t see themselves as contenders for the CNFR probably didn’t make the trip,” Moore said. “But for our first rodeo in this community in many years, I think it went pretty dang good.”
Moore thanked Dustin Davis and the CNCC equine studies and management program, Kelsey Zickefoose and the Spartan Times staff, and the CNCC volleyball, basketball, and baseball teams and coaches for helping make the Spartan Showdown a successful.