The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) Rodeo Team competed in Colby, Kan., in September for the first regular season National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) rodeo, followed by Durant, Okla., in late September and Stillwater, Okla., in early October. Riders competed against schools in the Central Plains Region and NEO riders earned eight top-five finishes, with Amber Scales placing first in barrel racing in Colby and Ben Piazza placing third in tie-down roping in both Colby and Stillwater. (Top row from left: Shelby Hicks, Taylor Biggs, Ray Carlson, Ethan Griffin, Sage Keener. Bottom row from left: Stephen Richmond, Brady Hagler, Ben Piazza, Laramie Warren)
Scales is a freshmen Business Administration major from Pittsburg, Kan. She put herself in a comfortable position by finishing the Colby long round in fourth. Her lightning short-go performance earned her first place and puts her in the top 5 of the NIRA standings with 140 points. She is joined by Sage Keener, a freshman general studies major from Whitesboro, Texas, who earned a top ten finish in goat tying in Stillwater. The women’s team has also rallied behind the experience of sophomore Shelby Hicks, an Agriculture major from Pocola, Okla. After a successful barrel racing season last year, Hicks placed fourth in the event at Durant.
For the men’s team, Freshman Agriculture Major Ben Piazza from Twin Oaks, Okla., placed third in the Colby tie-down roping event, with a total time of 20.9 seconds over two rounds and a score of 110 points. Piazza also placed fourth in team roping in Durant and third in calf roping in Stillwater. He was joined by Freshman Steer Wrestler from Gowan, Okla., Steven Richmond. Richmond, an Agriculture major, was tenth in the long round at Colby with a time of 4.6 seconds, but fought his way back to claim fourth in the average by clocking a blazing 3.9 seconds in the short-go and scored 70 points. Richmond finished top five again in Stillwater.
Their finishes place NEO in sixth place in the NIRA and third among two-year colleges. During the next two rodeos, both new and familiar faces cracked the top ten, with sophomores Brady Hagler and Laramie Warren finishing top five in Stillwater. Hagler, a sophomore Agriculture major from Salem, Mo., placed fourth in team roping with freshman partner Ethan Griffin of Jay, Okla. Warren, a sophomore Agriculture major from Adair, Okla., placed fifth in calf roping. New blood included Ray Carlson, a freshman Criminal Justice major from Bristow, Okla., taking fifth in steer wrestling at Stillwater and Taylor Biggs, a freshman Agriculture major from Harrison, Ark., earning fourth in Durant’s team roping event. “I’m very excited about how the Men’s and Women’s teams have gotten off to a great start this fall!” said Head Rodeo Coach Kolby Ungeheuer. “With three events completed, we have some students climbing their way to the top of the regional standings, towards a birth in the spring to the College National Finals Rodeo! Ben Piazza and Steven Richmond have both placed twice, and are in great shape going into our last rodeo this fall. I plan on both teams finishing the fall season strong!”