The Southern Arkansas University Rodeo Team will send eight students to the College National Rodeo Finals in Casper, Wyo., in June. Their performance caps another impressive year for the team, said Rusty Hayes, rodeo coach.
Strand Barricklow and Britt Driggers won the Ozark Region Champion Team Roping Header and Heeler titles. Jacie Sullivan is the Ozark Region Champion in Goat Tying. Logan Graham, Cooper Lee, Ashton Glascock, Michaela Caudle and Shiloh Marchand all finished in the top three in their respective events, qualifying them for competition in Casper.
The team members qualified for Finals at an intercollegiate rodeo event held at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Miss., in April. Now they are preparing for the national event, which will be June 10-16.
“I’m not surprised we are sending a team,” Hayes said. “I would have expected these students to be there, for sure.”
Glascock, an English major from Hartsburg, Miss., said she is “absolutely excited” to be going to the CNFR. She qualified this year in the goat tying event. It won’t be her first run at Casper.
Not many universities have facilities like Story Arena. The quality of the program convinced me to come here.
“I’ve been out there twice before in breakaway roping but not goat tying, so this will be a challenge,” Glascock said. A roper since age 10, Glascock said she chose SAU due to its state-of-the-art rodeo facilities. “Not many universities have facilities like Story Arena. The quality of the program convinced me to come here.”
Barricklow, a junior Agriculture Business major from Lebanon, Ind., said this will be his first trip to Finals. “It was a goal of mine,” he said. “I came to qualify. To win region this year is just awesome.”
He said he decided to come to SAU due to its facilities and the quality of the program. “Our coach is very supportive, he always makes sure we have good practice stock,” Barricklow said. “I think the Finals will be a challenge for everyone, but we’ll be competing to the best of our abilities.”
Driggers, a senior Agriculture Business major from Pearcy, Ark., will be making his third trip to Casper this year. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think this is one of the best chances I’ll have to do something. My first year was a good learning experience, but I think this year, with Strand as my partner, we’ll be very successful.”
Driggers will graduate on May 4, but stay on at SAU to pursue his master’s degree. He will still be eligible for one more year on the rodeo team. Last year, he qualified for Finals as the No. 3 steer wrestler in the Ozark Region.
Glascock said she looks forward to competing against girls she’s met at past rodeo events. “It’s always fun to meet back up with them on the college level,” she said. “They are just crazy athletes. I’ll need to practice a lot between now and then, put it that way.”
That might mean staying up until 2:00 a.m. It means a lot, especially to me and Strand, to be able to have good grades and still come out with the Ozark title.
She said the student-athletes on the rodeo team hold themselves and each other to a high standard and make time for academics as well as practice. “It’s been a goal of mine to make the Dean’s List and the President’s List, and it takes time and hard work to do that.”
Driggers agreed, noting that most team members come for hours of practice after a full day of class. “We’re (at Story Arena) every day throughout the year, even if we’ve got tests. We’ll come in the afternoon and stay until 9:00-11:00 at night, then go home and study,” he said. “That might mean staying up until 2:00 a.m. It means a lot, especially to me and Strand, to be able to have good grades and still come out with the Ozark title.”
The team recruits quality student-athletes from around the nation. “We pride ourselves on that,” Hayes said. Marchand, for example, will be making the three-day drive from her home in Middleboro, Mass., to Wyoming in June. The freshman Animal Science major said she learned a lot about herself and her horse this past season, and to be fearless and independent in her performance.
“As for the Finals, I really hope to just do my best in an atmosphere unlike anything I have competed in before,” Marchand said. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m grateful that I can say I have made the College National Rodeo Finals my freshman year in college.”
Hayes said that with the addition of this year’s recruiting class, he expects the team to be stronger next year.