In response to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) season and the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), which had been set for June, was cancelled. However, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) Rodeo Program still had two riders accrue enough points over the course of the abbreviated season to qualify for the CNFR before cancellation. Sophomore Rush Hodges and Freshman Ross McGuire were ranked second and third overall in the Tie Down Roping category in the Central Plains Region. “I was very pleased with Rush and Ross’s individual accomplishments this year,” said Rodeo Coach Kolby Ungeheuer. “It was disappointing that we only completed a little over half of the season, but I am looking forward to competing at this same high level next year!” In addition to Hodges and McGuire, NEO dominated the Tie Down Roping standings, with Sophomore McKade Wickett in fourth, Sophomore Dawson Turner in fifth, and Sophomore Dawson Appleton in twelfth in the region.
The NEO men’s team also had representation in several other events, with Freshman Mason Couch sixth in the region and McGuire in twelfth in Steer Wrestling. While Turner, Junior Ethan Griffin, Senior Rio Esquibel, Junior Ben Piazza, and Freshman Griffin Passmore earned top-fifteen placings in Team Roping. The combination of finishes had the men’s team at third in the region among two-year colleges.
Freshman Sam Vallone led the women’s team, securing a sixth-place finish in Breakaway Roping. She was joined by Freshman Allie Masters, who finished tenth in the event, also finished in the top-fifteen in Goat Tying. Freshman Katy Pendergrass picked up a top-ten finish in Barrel Racing to aid in an overall placement of second among two-year colleges. “You can bet that we will continue to be nationally competitive into the future,” added Ungeheuer. “This is a motivated team and I am excited for what they will accomplish.” For more information on the NEO rodeo team, contact Ungeheuer at Kolby.firstname.lastname@example.org. (Top Photo: Ross McGuire. Bottom Photo: Rush Hodges)