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Annual UWA Rodeo Showdown begins Thursday

Members of the UWA rodeo team pose with a teammate's horse
Members of the UWA rodeo team pose with a teammate's horse(WTOK Sports)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 1:01 AM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The University of West Alabama rodeo team will host its annual “UWA Rodeo Showdown” Thursday through Saturday at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center.

This year will be the first time the annual rodeo has not been held on UWA’s campus at the Hines-Spree Rodeo Complex.

After being on the road last week at Missouri Valley College’s rodeo, the team is looking forward to being back home. The Tigers are also grateful they get to host this event after not knowing if they would get to compete this fall.

“It’s an amazing opportunity," sophomore Heather McLaughlin said. “We weren’t sure that we were going to be able to rodeo this year, so to have that chance and for all the principals and the higher ups in the organization to say go ahead and rodeo, it’s an amazing feeling.”

“Being home field that’s always an advantage and they’ve been practicing hard all week," head coach Daniel Poole said. "We’ve practiced every night and everybody’s ready to open the gate and get after it.”

McLaughlin finished the 2019-20 season as the Ozark Region’s Women’s All-Around Champion and Reserve Breakaway Champion.

Senior Ryder Ladner, who was the 2019-2020 Ozark Region’s Men’s All-Around Champion, is hoping for a big turnout and encourages people of all ages to come out.

“This week we’re looking forward to a big crowd. We’re going to have everything from the kids all the way to the adults to enjoy at the rodeo," Ladner said. "When everybody comes down from all the other states and schools they can see that we do now how to have a little bit of fun in a pandemic.”

McLaughlin, Ladner and senior Chase Graves all qualified for the 2020 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming but did not get to compete after the season was cut short by COVID-19.

With last season ending abruptly for the Tigers, Graves shared what individual goals and team goals he has for the 2020-2021 season.

“I would like to win the region again this year in the team roping and calf roping but also want the team to do good," Graves said. "Ryder and Heather did good last year and I just want our team to do well.”

Performances will begin each night at 7 pm with gates opening at 6 pm. General admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with kids 5 and under getting in free. UWA students also are admitted free with a student ID.

Masks are required for spectators and rodeo participants when they are not competing.

Copyright 2020 WTOK. All rights reserved.

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