Giddyup! EMCC’s Collegiate Rodeo ends Saturday
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - East Mississippi Community College’s Collegiate Rodeo began on Thursday and will run through Saturday at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center.
This is the ninth year EMCC has hosted the event that brings in college rodeo teams from all across The South. EMCC competes in the Ozark Region alongside local opponents Pearl River Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College and University of West Alabama. Other teams traveled to the Queen City from Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky.
The rodeo marks the beginning of the spring season for Ozark Region teams, which compete in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. It was originally scheduled for Feb. 18-20 but was forced to be postponed due to wintry weather.
EMCC’s men’s and women’s rodeo teams both had successful fall campaigns. The men ended the season ranked eighth nationally and third in the region while the women’s team was ranked ninth nationally and first in the region.
Nikayla Brill, who competes in breakaway roping and barrel racing, said ending the fall season on top was a confidence booster for the women’s team.
”It definitely set us up to be on top coming into the spring so that’s real exciting,” Brill said. “We’re just hoping to keep going and stay strong. We have a lot of good talent on our team this year on the women’s side and we’re real excited.”
Individually for the EMCC men’s team, former all-around national champion Marcus Theriot is currently ranked ninth nationally and third regionally in steer wrestling. He also ranks second nationally in tie-down roping as well as in the men’s all-around competition for the 2020-21 season.
Theriot shared that even though EMCC is hosting the event, they don’t feel any extra pressure to perform well.
“It’s just another rodeo for us,” Theriot said. “It’s nice to be at home but at the end of the day, it’s just another rodeo that we hope to do well in.”
During the fall season, EMCC women’s team was led by freshman Taycie Matthews.
Matthews is the nation’s top-ranked collegiate barrel racer after winning four of the five event titles during the Ozark Region’s fall slate. Her older sister, Jaylie, currently stands third in the region and 16th nationally. She finished the shortened 2019-20 NIRA season as the nation’s top barrel racer.
Jaylie is thankful to be having a spring season after last year’s was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s really nice to have, for right now, a spring season,” Jaylie said. “It’s my horses first run back since last year, my freshman year, so I’m pretty excited.”
The rodeo concludes on Saturday with the championship round. EMCC will then travel to Pearl River next week for the second event of the spring season.
Gates open at 7 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students with admission free for children age 5 and younger.
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