It’s rodeo time and the home team is ready for all comers.
That’s the annual Kansas State University College Rodeo with the KSU Rodeo Team looking for action.
“The K-State Rodeo Club is busier than ever with double duties this week,” according to Casy Winn, sponsor and coach.
“Every club member is involved getting Weber Arena on the Manhattan campus set up for the rodeo,” Winn said.
“Plus, rodeo team members are practicing hardest readying for arena competition. Every cowboy and cowgirl always wants to do their best in front of the home crowd,” Coach Winn insisted.
The KSU College Rodeo is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15-16-17.
Kickoff performance Friday evening, at 7:30, has been designated Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night. “Many contestants and spectators will wear pink to increase awareness and support for curing cancer,” Winn described.
Children, 12 and under, are admitted free to the Saturday matinee, 1 o’clock, with donation of one canned food goods.
“They must be accompanied by an adult rodeo ticket holder,” Winn clarified. “This will support the Flint Hills Breadbasket which works to ensure that no one in the community goes hungry.”
Miss Rodeo K-State 2018 Bailey Jo Jeffries will crown her successor the new KSU rodeo queen before Saturday evening’s performance.
“Cowgirls will be competing in queen competitions Friday and Saturday with coronation the climax at 7:15,” Winn said. “The queen will represent K-State and the sport of rodeo at activities throughout the Midwest in the coming year.
“Following the queen coronation, we want to ‘pack Weber purple’ for the third long-go-round action at 7:30.”
Cowboy Church is right there in Weber Arena Sunday morning, at 10 o’clock, with special invitation for everybody to attend.
Short-go-round finals rodeo performance Sunday afternoon, 1 o’clock, is Military Appreciation Day. “Special recognition will be given those who are serving and have served for our great nation’s many freedoms,” Winn said. “Rodeo action is to feature the top cowboy and cowgirl contestants from the three long-go-round performances.”
The K-State Rodeo Team has what is likely a record number of KSU cowboys and cowgirls working out. Coach Winn listed 18 students practicing for the men’s team and ten cowgirls trying out to represent the women’s team.
Several are now among the top contestants in the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). “Our rodeo is again NIRA sanctioned attracting rodeo participants from throughout the central plains,” Winn noted.
There were four fall region rodeos and six spring rodeos are on tap, with KSU’s rodeo first of the season.
Top region teams after the fall rodeos are Oklahoma Panhandle State, Northwestern Oklahoma State, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Fort Scott.
Currently, the KSU women’s team is seventh in the region, and the men are ninth. “We are looking for both of our K-State teams to move up to a top five ranking by the end of spring,” Winn predicted.
Several K-State Rodeo Team members are ranked in the top region standings at this point. Sami Jo O’Day, Stewartsville, Missouri, is third in breakaway roping, and Kassidi Hofmann, Ripon, California, is ninth in breakaway.
Kyle Eike, Glenarm, Illinois, is regionally ranked second in steer wrestling.
Team mates region standings: Corey Larsen, Whitman, Nebraska, 13th tie-down roping; Drake Taysom, Olathe, 14th bareback bronc riding; Will Buchanan, Strasburg, Colorado, 17th steer wrestling; and Dominic Ruppert, Witt, Illinois, 21st steer wrestling.
“We have an outstanding team, and they practice hard to keep improving despite whatever the weather,” Winn acknowledged. “The team practices every day either outside in Burtis Arena or inside at Weber Arena. We are fortunate to have such great facilities for the team to work out and keep getting better.”
Several KSU team members are on tap to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo Finals, according to Coach Winn’s optimism. That’ll be in Casper, Wyoming, June 9-15, with the top contestants in each of NIRA’s 11 regions qualifying to compete.
Noteworthy, there are 3,500 student Western athletes representing 135 colleges and universities in the NIRA with 100 annually sanctioned rodeos.
Strong alumni and friend support must be credited for developing K-State Rodeo Team’s large roster of outstanding athletes, Winn recognized.
“Our alumni continue to be the greatest support for the club and team,” he said. “Many insist experiences in the club and on the team taught value lessons that apply in the arena of life.”
Scholarship funding has increased in recent years, Winn noted, while he encouraged giving to keep the program growing.
A Kansas State University Rodeo Alumni Social is Saturday afternoon, Stanley Stout Center, 2200 Denison Avenue, Manhattan, at 4 o’clock. “We’d be pleased to see all alumni at this fun event honoring K-State’s rodeo legacy,” invited Amber Thompson.
Hardworking on logistics for the affair, Thompson said there will be light refreshments, a cash bar and raffle prizes. A silent fundraising auction is also planned.
Reservations are requested and can be made along with additional information by emailing Thompson at email@example.com
Looking to immediate days ahead, Winn said, “It’s a busy week for rodeo athletes at K-State, but it’ll be a show worth attending.
“We have a great chance to use our home court advantage to start the spring rodeo season off with a bang. Join use for an action packed weekend in Weber Arena on the KSU Campus. See you at the 2019 rodeo,” Coach Winn welcomed.