The Odessa College men’s rodeo team caught a glimpse of what it was like to ascend the college rodeo mountain.
After finishing the season second in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Southwest Region, the Wranglers qualified for the National College Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
It was Odessa College’s first appearance in the CNFR since 1989, when the men’s team won the title in Bozeman, Mont.
Odessa College fell well short of that accomplishment this time around, finishing in 41st place with 70 points.
“We’re going to build on the positives and have a few things worked out better,” Wranglers head coach Kelly Doster said. “Some of the guys just had some tough stock draws, but it’s part of the game that we play though.”
Three Odessa College cowboys — Dustin Bowen, Layne Norton and Tyler Rees — competed in the championship short go Saturday and ended the day among the top rodeo athletes in the country.
Rees and his partner, Tyler Southern of Eastern New Mexico, placed eighth with a time of 7.3 seconds in team roping. The duo’s short go time equaled its best outing in its first go of the rodeo on June 11.
“I’m happy with our performance considering I’ve never roped with him before,” Rees said. “I think we did so well because were we focused on doing our jobs and not worried about the crowd.”
Rees’ teammates didn’t have the same type of luck.
Bowen and Norton did not score in their short go appearances and both finished in 12th place. Bowen was bucked off in bareback riding, while Norton missed a calf in tie down roping.
“It was a good experience for everyone,” said Bowen, who finished first in the Southwest Region in bull riding and men’s all-around. “I think the freshmen got a taste of what it’s like to compete in that type of pressure. It can only help them for next year.”
Of the six athletes Odessa College sent to the CNFR, only three will return to the team next season.
Norton and Rees said they will not return, while Bowen said he is unsure if he will return for a third season with Odessa College.
Norton, a sophomore, said he will pursue a degree in agricultural economics and join the men’s rodeo team at Texas Tech. Rees, a junior, will transfer to Sul Ross State University and compete on its men’s rodeo squad.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to compete with the team this season,” Norton said. “Odessa College has a great program and coach Doster is building something special.”
“Ryan (Tripp), Austin (Tomaski) and Clint (Laye) know what to expect going into next year,” Rees said of his Odessa College teammates. “CNFR is a fun place to be at. And once you’re there, you expect to return and do better the next time.
“I think they will have a lot of motivation to want to get back.”
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