The Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team is the regional champion. Pictured front row, from left: Riley Weehler, Maloy, Iowa; Shane Weber, Burwell; Tyler Murray, Wheaton, Kan.; Lane Kennedy, Orleans; Garrett Wickett, Norfolk; Kris Rasmussen, Riverdale; Trey Engel, Silver Creek; Kaleb Fritz, Creighton and Wyatt Killion, Ainsworth.
Middle row: Rowdy Moon, Sargent; Nate Bausch, Waterbury; Cyler Dowling, Newell, S.D.; Kaylen Smith, Allen; Mara Christian, Elwood; Kaile Jacobson, Haiku, Hawaii and Shania and Charmane Macomber, Whitman.
Back row: Rhett O'Connor, Paxton; Chandler Comfort, Gem, Kan.; Trenton Solida, Phillipsburg, Kan.; Reece Weber, Valentine; JW Schroder, Taylor; Hunter Baker, Cattaraugus, N.Y.; Sam Elliott, Prineville, Ore. and Garrett Heinert, Papillion.
Standing: Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach, and Garrett Nokes, MPCC Rodeo Team timed event coach.
The Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team will enter the College National Finals Rodeo as the number one men’s team in the Great Plains Region.MPCC has been sitting at the top of the leaderboard in the men’s team standings since September. It won its first rodeo ever as a team during the MPCC Stampede and consistently placed high at subsequent competitions.
That includes wins at Hastings in April and at Dickinson, N.D. on Saturday – which ultimately secured the year-end championship.
“I’m probably most proud of the fact that while we’ve been doing well all along, at the end of the season, the team didn’t let the foot off the gas – it was mashed to the floor the whole time,” said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. “That winning mentality is what it takes to be successful in a career and throughout life in general.”
MPCC is also leading the region in a handful of individual events.
Rowdy Moon of Sargent is the Great Plains Region bareback riding champion. Garrett Wickett of Norfolk is No. 1 in bull riding, and Chandler Comfort, of Gem, Kan., is the top team roping heeler.
“Rowdy has been consistent all season, and that hard work has paid off,” Elliott said. “I think he’s ready for whatever nationals throw at him. He qualified last year and finished 19th. He rode all three of his horses, but had some things to work on technique-wise. That experience is going to help him this time around. He’s been there, done that.”
Wickett didn’t qualify for nationals last year, but he is a sophomore, so he also has an extra year of competition experience.
“Wickett impressed me a lot this year,” said Elliott. “He has been going to professional rodeos as well as to college rodeos and is borderline next level ready right now. I wouldn’t put it past him to go into Casper and really shine.”
The team’s timed event Coach Garrett Nokes said Comfort is one of the most focused and dedicated freshmen he’s ever been around.
“He’s fun to work with, and he takes care of business,” Nokes said. “I don’t know anyone who has a rope in his hand more hours of the day than Chandler. He’s good for a reason, and I expect him to do great things.”
Altogether, MPCC is sending seven contestants to nationals -- four more than went last year. The other qualifiers include Wyatt Killion of Ainsworth, who is sitting second in the regional team roping heeler standings, and Kris Rasmussen of Riverdale, who is second in the region in steer wrestling.
Steer wrestler Cyler Dowling of Newell, S.D. and saddle bronc rider Lane Kennedy of Orleans, are also headed to the CNFR. They are both ranked third in the region in their events.
“Overall, we’ve had a great year,” said Nokes. “We’ve had a lot of fun in the practice pen and are lucky to have a group of kids who not only want to win really bad, but also mesh well. They practice for one another, not just for themselves, and it shows in how high they placed. Their attitude and support of each other makes them tough to beat.”
The public will have a chance to meet the MPCC Rodeo Team members who qualified for nationals during a send-off from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. June 7 at Schmick’s Market in McCook.