SWTJC rodeo qualifies six athletes to coveted 2021 CNFR

SWTJC rodeo qualifies six athletes to coveted 2021 CNFR

The following information was submitted by Sugar Almand, SWTJC Rodeo Contributor.

Uvalde, TX, May 26, 2021 - As the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association--Southern Region season wrapped, SWTJC earned six athlete qualifications to the College National Finals in Casper, Wyoming. The coveted event held in June each year is the pinnacle for collegiate rodeo athletes, their colleges and coaches across the country.

In a photo finish at the Southern Region season closer at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, the SWTJC Rodeo team pulled off the unthinkable.

“On Saturday morning before the short round, I knew we had one team roper (Reno Stoebner) qualified, maybe Buckshot Patterson in heeling, and a super slim chance of our women’s team qualifying,” said coach Almand. “They take the top two men’s and women’s teams and the top 3 individuals in the region in each event. The way the points work, I knew Reno won the regional title in the Heading regardless of what happened in the short round, but other than that it wasn’t looking too promising for any of our other athletes. I knew it would take everything happening just right for the women to have any outside chance of going, and I knew we needed some other team ropers to really have an off day to give any of ours a chance.”

Breakaway roper Taylor Lawson from New Waverly finished second in round one with a rapid 2.1 time. Almand figured she needed to win the short round and average to give the women’s team a chance. Whitsett roper Rylie Smith was tenth in the breakaway in round one with a 3.3, and coach Almand needed her to place in the short round and the average. Then Huntsville goat tyer Lacy Bruening had placed second with a smoking 6.6 in round one, and coach Almand figured she needed to also win the short round and average for a shot at a CNFR qualification for the women’s team.

“Taylor finished second in the breakaway in both the short round and the average, and Rylie had some tough luck in the short round. At that point I felt we were probably out of luck and the only means of points we had left for the women was Lacy in the goat tying.”

Bruening did her part in the goat tying, putting up another rapid time of 6.8 to finish second in both the short round and the average.

“Even though both Lacy and Taylor maximized their runs, at that point I thought our chances were over. Sam Houston State University had over 200 points on us going in and Texas A&M University was breathing down our necks. Even though one of the Sam Houston girls got a no time in the goat tying, I knew they still had some barrels racers to go, as did A&M. At that point we had to just sit and watch it unfold. “

As both Almand and the SWTJC cowgirls had resolved to a ‘we gave it our best’ position, all eyes turned to the team roping. Buckshot Patterson was barely clinging onto third place in the region with only a small chance of a CNFR qualification since he had missed his steer in round one.

“It was definitely a nail bitter. Hunter Underbrink came back sixth with a 6.9 in round one but missed his steer in the short round. Reno Stoebner was next to last to rope after being second in round one with a 5.6. He and his partner were 5.8 which left Jace (Frerck) who had won the first round with a 4.6.”

Frerck and his partner were 5.2 to win first in both the short round and the average, while Stoebner finished second in the short round and average. Stoebner solidified both the Southern Region Champion Header title and a CNFR Qualification.

“At that point I knew Reno had won the region and would go to Casper, and that Jace and Buckshot would most likely be fighting for the 3rd slot to go. Then, Sam’s coach came up and congratulated me. I didn’t know what he was congratulating me for. He said our women had passed them and we were going to Casper. I honestly didn’t think he was correct. Then A&M’s coach said the same thing.”

At the completion of the event, it took a few hours for all the points to be tabulated. When the dust cleared, Stoebner won the region heading and had qualified, Patterson finished third heeling to qualify, Frerck was 4th heeling and was “picked up to rope” with another qualifier from Hill College to earn a slot, and the SWTJC Women’s team pulled off a second-place season finish to qualify.

“I didn’t really have a chance to be excited. It was more like shock. I think my women were in shock too. It’s a bit complicated how it all works out. Jace getting picked up to go, and how you’re able to fill your team going to the finals. You have to go by points and percentages of how athletes finished against the entire region.”

In the end, SWTJC will be sending 6 athletes. Reno Stoebner, Buckshot Patterson, Jace Frerck and women’s team member Rylie Smith all qualify in the team roping, while Taylor Lawson qualified in both Breakaway and Barrel Racing, and Lacy Bruening qualified in Goat Tying.

“It took every single athlete at SWTJC to achieve this. It took every single point any girl got this season--several girls contributed points to our bottom line but don’t technically qualify to go by the NIRA rules. We couldn’t have done it without them. We are so excited, and I really think our athletes have a shot at doing big things in Casper. Still, I am extremely grateful for everyone that has supported and cheered us on this season. I hope we have made our college and our community proud.”

The College National Finals Rodeo is held in Casper, Wyoming. The competition starts on June 12 where each contestant competes on three runs with the top 12 in the nation advancing to the Finals on June 19.

The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association began in 1949. There are over 137 member colleges and universities, and 11 regions with over 3500 student athletes who compete nationwide.