BOZEMAN — The Montana State University Rodeo team, which had a banner year in 2015-2016, looks to continue a tradition of dominance in the Big Sky Region as the fall rodeo season opens in coming weeks, stoking hopes that the team could win a national title in the upcoming season.
The MSU men's and women's teams racked up enough points during last season's 10 collegiate rodeos to place first in the Big Sky Region, marking a 13th consecutive season win for the women's team. The entire team ranked first in the region in six out of collegiate rodeo's 10 events, which include bareback riding, steer wrestling and co-ed team roping.
Topping off the season, 13 team members qualified to compete in the National College Finals Rodeo, held this summer in Casper, Wyoming, by ranking in the top three in the Big Sky Region for their respective events.
"That shows how dominant MSU was across the board last year," said Andy Bolich, MSU Rodeo head coach. "I don't think there was any other school that had as many people qualify as we did."
Season highlights included Cierra Tredway, a senior from Belgrade, winning the Big Sky Region women's all-around for her performance in barrel racing, breakaway roping and other events. Senior Wyatt Bloom from Bend, Oregon, placed first in bareback riding for a fourth year in a row.
"I can't remember that ever happening before," Bolich said of Bloom's winning streak.
During the regular season, the toughest competition for MSU rodeo team members is often from their teammates, Bolich said. But at the National College Finals Rodeo, MSU riders and ropers are pitted against roughly 400 of the top contestants in the country.
"It's an individual sport, but at the end of the day it's a team thing also," said MSU business marketing major Ryanne Tracy, who as a sophomore competed in team roping and goat tying at the 2016 National College Finals Rodeo.
MSU has won eight national rodeo championships in the past 45 years, the most recent of which was a women's team victory in 2011. Taking home a team championship at the National College Finals Rodeo "is the big goal every year," Bolich said.
This year in Casper, five MSU rodeo team members placed in the top six in their events, and four members qualified for the finals round. The MSU team placed 18th overall, a solid finish considering the tight point margins, Bolich said.
"Finishing in the top 20 at that rodeo is good," he added.
Seventeen of the MSU team's 57 members in 2015-2016 were graduating seniors, leaving some big boots to fill, Bolich said. But, he said, the team has a solid group of incoming students, and the returning members are one year stronger.
"I have high expectations for this team," he said.
Bolich said to watch for Sage Newman when the chutes open on the 2016-2017 season with a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, on Sept. 9. An incoming freshman from Melstone, Newman won saddle bronc at this year's National High School Rodeo Finals. Chase Dougherty, another incoming freshman, won bull riding on the summer amateur circuit.
"We should be really tough at regional level and also at the national finals," Bolich said. "We'll have a good chance at a team championship."
Will Powell, a business management major who took second in the men's all-around and first in steer wrestling in the region in 2015-2016, said "most of the team members have been rodeoing all summer, and everybody's really sharp.
"I think it's going to be a really good year," he said.
Contact: Andy Bolich, (406) 994-2403 or email@example.com
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