SCOOBA, Miss. (WTOK) Many members of EMCC's rodeo team qualified for this year's College Nationals Finals Rodeo (CNFR), which was scheduled to take place in June in Casper, Wyoming.
While the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association said it would decide by May if nationals would still happen, the organization recently chose to cancel the competition.
"You know that was heart breaking," head coach Morgan Goodrich said. "I have some students that just go for two years and don't advance to a four year university and they qualified for nationals. For them to work that hard all year, keep their grades up and not get to go…that was heartbreaking."
EMCC's women's rodeo team had qualified for nationals for the first time in program history after finishing the shortened regular season as reserve champions in the 13-team Ozark Region.
Three women and two men from EMCC's team also qualified to compete in individual competitions at nationals. Freshman Jaylie Matthews was set to compete in barrel racing, toping national standings in the event with 880 points. Myles Neighbors was going to compete in steer-wrestling as the top-contender with 770 total points.
Also qualifying for this year’s CNFR were Kayley Kennemer and Blair Bryant from the women’s team and Sam Morgan from the men’s side.
Kennemer tied for third place in the breakaway roping competition within the Ozark Region regular-season standings after claiming first-place honors at the EMCC-hosted rodeo held in February. She was also scheduled to compete in the CNFR’s barrel racing event, while Bryant was slated to participate in breakaway roping. Morgan earned a spot to compete in this year’s scheduled CNFR by finishing third among the Ozark Region’s calf roping leaders and placing 11th nationally with 460 total points.
While the team's season may have been premature, Coach Goodrich said the team is looking to be just as successful next season.
"Our women's team will be really strong as well as our men's team," Goodrich said. "A lot of the same people are coming back. I'm not losing too many kids so that was a bonus that some of my kids are freshman that qualified so I know that we'll be okay next year."
EMCC's rodeo teams have won nine regional titles, three national titles and one reserve national title in 10 years as a program.