The Southern Arkansas University Rodeo Team has earned its 13th consecutive trip to the College National Rodeo Finals in Casper, WY.
Four Muleriders rodeo student-athletes will represent SAU at the national event from June 9-15 – Jacie Sullivan, Logan Graham, Michaela Caudle, and Cash Davis. Their performance caps another satisfying year for the team, said Rusty Hayes, rodeo coach.
“I knew we would make it,” Hayes said of this year’s run at the College Finals. “We had a very good fall semester as a team and overcame some challenges this spring to qualify these individuals.”
This will be the third qualifier to the College Finals for both Sullivan and Caudle, and Graham’s second. Sullivan, a senior psychology major from Morrilton, is the Ozark Region Champion goat tier, a title she has won three years in a row.
Caudle, a junior pre-nursing major from Horatio, is the Ozark Region Reserve Champion breakaway roper. Graham, a sophomore agricultural business major from Simms, TX, is the Reserve Champion header. Davis, a freshman agriculture education major from Billingsleys Corner, will be making his first appearance at the CNRF as the Reserve Champion heeler.
Hayes said he’s not surprised the team members have earned a trip to Casper. “If everybody does what they’re capable of doing, they have every reason to be successful. Congratulations to these students.”
The rodeo team has a tradition of success at CNRF. “Our women’s team placed in the Top 10 last year, and either the men’s or the women’s team has placed in the Top 10 seven out of the last 10 trips to Casper,” Hayes said. “We’ve always been competitive on a national level as well as the regional level.”
The students will train hard in the weeks to come. “There are no days off,” Graham said, with a laugh.
“It’s a year-round thing,” Caudle said, noting that her third qualifier to the CNFR brings a certain perspective. “Once you get past the hype, you have to look at it as just another event. I’m going there with ice water in my veins.”
Hayes is looking forward to another successful year in 2019-2020, with the team looking to recruit nearly double its membership. “We’ve got an expansion going on,” he said. “We will probably bring in twice as many (students) this next year.”
Twenty-six SAU Rodeo team members attended an Intercollegiate Rodeo at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi, on April 25-26.