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SWTJC rodeo athletes qualify for College National Finals

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SWTJC rodeo athletes qualify for College National Finals

Uvalde, TX, April 6, 2020 – After finishing eight of 10 regular-season contests, two Southwest Texas Junior College athletes have earned a qualification to the College National Finals Rodeo after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic shut down competition.

Sophomores Tyler West and Paige Dawson will head to Casper, Wyoming, in June if the event goes on as currently planned.

West, last year’s sole CNFR qualifier from SWTJC, finished second in the nation in steer wrestling.

He will return to the national finals this year in two events after finishing second in the men’s all-around race and third in the tie-down roping.

West’s all-around qualification allows him to pick up his next highest-point event, team roping. West will compete in both tie-down roping and team roping as a header in Casper.

Joining West will be Dawson, whose third-place goat-tying finish earned her a first-time CNFR qualification as well.

“As a coach, I’m extremely proud of our team overall,” Coach Joey Almand said. “Having two CNFR qualifiers is a huge achievement for our college and growing program. Having Tyler competing in two events is huge, and for Paige, finishing third in what may be the toughest region in goat tying is an incredible feat.”

SWTJC also had three other athletes finish in the top five in the Southern Region event standings.

Header Reno Stoebner finished fourth, heeler Jace Frerck was fifth, and Haley Kiehne finished fifth in breakaway roping.

“We are disappointed that the season was cut short,” Almand said. “We really felt we had three more legitimate shots at CNFR qualifications with Haley, Jace, and Reno. Those last two events were really important for us to get qualified.”

While it’s unfortunate, Almand is keeping everything in perspective.

“We are still very grateful considering what our entire country and world is going through with this virus,” he said. “It has affected many athletes, but it’s also affecting everyone. It’s hard to be disappointed about losing rodeo points when people are literally losing their livelihoods, or worse their lives.”