By Frank J. Buchman
“The purple team has some bright stars, and it’ll sure make a stout showing in the home college competition.”
That’s the synopsis of outlook for the Kansas State University Rodeo Team from longtime coach Doug Muller as college cowboys and cowgirls were pulling out all stakes in the practice pen last week.
“The mild winter has allowed for the team to practice outside a lot of the time, and there are indoor facilities too so everyone has been working hard preparing for the 59th annual K-State Rodeo at Weber Arena, in Manhattan, February 20-21-22,” Coach Muller said.
Adding to the optimistic outlook for the nine-member K-State rodeo squad this 2014-15 competition year in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) has been accomplishments at the fall rodeos in the Central Plains Region.
“Overall, the ‘Powercat Rodeo Team’ collected creditable lacings in their individual events, and made the other 17 colleges in our Kansas and Oklahoma region take notice when the purple trailers pulled into the arena,” Muller evaluated.
“I’m proud of the team this year, and with six more NIRA rodeos in our region this spring, there should be several team members qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo this year,” predicted Muller, noting the KSU Rodeo is the kickoff event of the college region’s spring run.
Central Plains Region standings show K-State Men’s Rodeo Team ninth out of 15, with only one other Kansas school rated higher: Fort Scott in third.
Additional Kansas colleges include Garden City, 10th; Pratt, 11th, Coffeyville, 12th; Fort Hays, 14th, and Dodge City, 15th.
“All of the Kansas teams and nine Oklahoma teams are entered for the K-State Rodeo,” Muller said.
The K-State Women’s Rodeo Team is ranked 11th after the fall circuit, with Garden City, second; Pratt, ninth; and Fort Hays, 12th.
Cowboys and cowgirls must rank in the top three of an event in the Central Plains Region standings to qualify for the 2015 College National Finals Rodeo, June 14-20, in Casper, Wyoming. This will be the 67th College National Finals Rodeo, and K-State has been represented at many of them, including the first one at the Cow Palace.
“Our steer wrestlers have been the K-State team standouts to date,” Muller recognized. “Tanner Brunner is ranked fifth in the Central Plains Region, and Jarek VanPetten is 10th.
“Tanner and Jarek are outstanding bulldoggers, really a couple of the best in the country. They’ve both been going and winning some checks in open and professional winter rodeos and events, and really should both qualify for the college finals,” Coach Muller predicted.
VanPetten is also ranked 13th in the tie down calf roping event for the Central Plains Region. “Jarek is a top all-around hand, and the way he’s been practicing and with some good draws, he could sure make the finals in that event too,” Muller said.
Brunner also competes in calf roping and team roping; with K-State points expected to be collected in those events at the spring college rodeos.
Representing K-State, Katelyn Eike is 14th in the barrel racing division of the women’s region event standings.
“She has a really good horse, and made a 12.6 second run in an open event last weekend. There’s no question Katelyn will be a tough competitor in the barrel races this spring and could readily quality for the college finals,” Muller stated.
“Of course, Katelyn was the all-around cowgirl four years in the Illinois High School High School Association and competes in breakaway roping for K-State, too. So, she could win some all-around titles for us this spring and even make two women’s events at the finals,” Muller continued.
A rundown of this spring’s K-State Men’s Rodeo Team: Brunner, senior in animal science, Ramona, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping; VanPetten, junior in animal science, Meriden, steer wrestling, calf roping; Austin Jackman, junior in agribusiness, Baldwin City, team roping; and Ty Larson, junior in agribusiness, White City, team roping.
The K-State Women’s Rodeo Team this spring: Eike, sophomore in animal science pre-vet, Chatham, Illinois, barrel racing, breakaway roping; Casey Adams, sophomore in finance pre-law, Junction City, breakaway roping, team roping; Shelby Hutchison, junior in general, Chapman, breakaway roping, team roping; Shelby Leonhard, senior in agriculture economics, Oskaloosa, barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping; and Mary Staub, junior in agribusiness, Lake View, Oregon, barrel racing.
“All in all, K-State really has a group of outstanding college cowboys and cowgirls, and they can go anywhere in the country among the toughest competition and pick up a check. No question about it.
“I really expect the K-State teams to do quite well at our rodeo this weekend. We could have some event winners, possibly all-around winners like sometimes in the past. Our teams both sure could top their divisions, if everything comes together like it can, and be right there with the K-State football team,” Muller said.
Of course, the K-State Rodeo Club is sponsoring the rodeo with Mikhayla DeMott, a sophomore in ag communications from Rio, Illinois, serving as club president.
Additional officers are Adams, vice president; Staub, treasurer; Leonhard, secretary; Jackie Neville, senior in ag economics from St. Marks, Kansas, facilities; Brooke Wallace, sophomore in general from New Cambria, advertising chairperson; Brunner, stock chairman; Brooke Boyington, sophomore in family studies from Phillipsburg, social chairperson; Jackman, Ag Council representative; and Miss Rodeo K-State Danielle Stuerman, junior in animal science from Shawnee.
“Everything is really coming together for the rodeo,” confirmed Brooke Wallace, the advertising coordinator.
Again, the rodeo is set for Weber Arena in the Animal science building on the north edge of the K-State’s Manhattan campus.
“Action kicks off with the first performance at 7:30, Friday evening, Feb. 20, which has been designated as ‘Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night,’ to increase awareness and benefit cancer research and victims,” Wallace said.
Again, the rodeo livestock will be provided by Dell Hall’s Rafter H Rodeo Company, a top professional contractor, who has supplied the stock for a number of years, Muller inserted.
“Contestants and spectators alike really appreciate the quality of stock Dell Hall brings to our rodeo, helping guarantee the best Western action for everybody involved,” Coach Muller assured.
The Saturday, Feb. 21, matinee performance will be at 1 o’clock. “All children, 12 years of age and under, will be admitted free with an adult ticket and two cans of food goods to be donated to the Flint Hills Breadbasket,” Wallace said.
“Coronation of the new Miss Rodeo K-State will be at 6:45, Saturday evening, with the rodeo action at 7:30,” she said.
Cowboy church is Sunday morning in Weber Arena, at 10 o’clock. “Top cowboys and cowgirls in the three performances of the long-go-round will qualify for the short-go K-State Rodeo Final Performance at 1 o’clock, Saturday afternoon, Feb. 22, which has also been designated Military Appreciation Day with discount tickets, and special recognition for those serving for our country’s freedom,” Wallace said.
Details about the 59th annual K-State Rodeo, February 20-21-22, and the K-State Rodeo Teams are available at www.k-staterodeo.com.