College rodeo attracts large crowd and competitors

College rodeo attracts large crowd and competitors

The dust has settled at the Uvalde County Fairplex Rodeo Arena, where the 57th Annual SWTJC Rodeo was held.

According to rodeo organizers, the event was an “enormous success for collegiate rodeo contestants, local fans, and the entire Uvalde community.”

Competitors from the Southern Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, which represented twelve different colleges vied for top honors during the event.

Over the two days of friendly rivalry, nearly 300 contestants poured into our community and tried their hand at qualifying for Saturday night‘s final round of the competition.

Among those competing were multiple national champions as well as cowboys and cowgirls who have previously qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) held each summer.

“The level of talent in our Southern Region is simply incredible,” said head coach Joey Almand. “I would like our community to realize they witnessed some of the state’s and the nation’s best collegiate rodeo athletes during our rodeo.”

The action began with slack on Friday morning, then continued with the main event on Friday night, more slack Saturday morning, and finished with the Saturday night short round.

During the short round, the top ten contestants in each of nine events during the first round advanced to compete to see who would take top honors.

Special guests Tomas and Justine Garcilazo were on hand both nights to deliver incredible entertainment between rodeo action.

The couple is world-renowned for their authentic Mexican charro horsemanship, roping, and showmanship skills.

Justine also posted the colors by carrying the American Flag during the opening ceremonies in outstanding fashion.

Bo Linnartz, a Carrizo Springs native, delivered an inspiring rendition of the National Anthem.

Professional drill team, The Concho Chicks opened each performance with a fast-paced, choreographed horseback tribute to our military, while presenting sponsor flags to recognize the tremendous support of the event’s premier sponsors.

J&J Rodeo Company from Cooper, Texas made the 400 plus mile trek to Uvalde with 35 bucking horses, 28 bucking bulls, 60 calves, 35 steers, and ten employees to put on an exceptional event complete with some top-notch stock.

“Our community is so important and instrumental in this production,” said Almand. “We could never do this without the tremendous backing we get from this community. The generosity of our sponsors is truly humbling, and we are so very grateful for their support. We want our sponsors to know how important they are to us and what we do. It definitely takes a village, and the sponsors are the backbone to all we do here.”

During the rodeo competition, SWTJC cowboy Jace Frerck from Bozeman, Montana advanced in the Team Roping after he and his partner were 7.4 on their first steer.

During Saturday night’s performance, Frerck added a blistering run of 5.2 seconds to win the short round and finish the weekend second overall. This strong performance propelled Frerck into the number one position in the Southern Region standings. He goes into the region’s third rodeo next weekend, the leader in the Heeling contest.

Goat Tyer Paige Dawson of Burton, Texas, also had an outstanding weekend for SWTJC. She was 7.1 on her first goat, but came back with a rapid time of 6.7, the fastest time in the round of competition.

After winning the short round, Dawson finished the weekend third overall and currently sits fourth in the regional standings.

Uvalde cowboy Chase Ruhnke was 10.0 in the Tie-Down Roping during the first round, launching himself into the final round of the competition. Ruhnke delivered an outstanding performance Saturday night and was 8.7 on his final calf, good enough for fourth in the round and fourth overall for the weekend. Ruhnke now sits in eighth place in the regional Tie Down standings.

Cal Wolfe from Palmer, Texas, was 5.2 on his first run in the Steer Wrestling event, giving the SWTJC cowboy a slot in the short round. Wolfe ended the weekend ninth overall.

Mertzon, Texas cowboy Tyler West and partner Andrew Storey from Cotulla, represented SWTJC well by advancing to the final round of competition on Saturday night. The SWTJC duo was 7.0 and finished fifth in the first round of Team Roping, then ultimately finishing seventh overall.

West, who was a CNFR Steer Wrestling qualifier last year, was also acknowledged among other regional and national award winners during the event.

SWTJC President Hector Gonzales and coach Almand presented West with an award for winning the Reserve National Steer Wrestling title and National Intercollegiate Steer Wrestling Rookie of the Year award.

The SWTJC Annual Rodeo was again awarded the best rodeo in the region last year. Coach Almand expressed his gratitude for the community and the efforts required to achieve such an honor.

“We worked hard to bring the town and our community an event we can all be proud of,” concluded Almand. “From the feedback and the enormous amount of compliments we’ve received, we believe we achieved it. We are already looking forward to next year’s event and brainstorming on ways we can make it even bigger and better. There are so many working parts and details to making an event of this magnitude a success, but with the kind of people and support this community is known for, we know we can continue to deliver.”

Janice Lopez of Uvalde was the winner of a barbeque grill donated by Lyfe Tyme, Inc. The barbeque grill was raffled off during the Saturday night performance.