By Barbara Baker
This day and age, polished cowboy boots are becoming hard to find. But, at least five students from Northeastern Junior College have been in high gear polishing their skills and honing their art in the arena as they prepare to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) to be held in Casper June 14-20th. Chances are good that these students will be sporting shiny metal while they’re in Wyoming as winning top spots in the region in early May resulted in trophy buckles and a little prize money.
To qualify for the national finals, an individual student has to be among the top three in any event from their specific region. In this case, Northeastern Junior College (NJC) students compete in the Central Rocky Mountain Region which includes 10 colleges in Colorado and Wyoming. There are a total of 11 regions across the United States. The top women’s and men’s teams from each region also qualify to compete at nationals, as a team. This year marks the 11th consecutive year that NJC has had students qualify for nationals.
On the men’s side, Northeastern also has two-time CNFR qualifier, engineering major, Treg Schaack from Edgemont, SD and another three-time CNFR qualifier, David Hinman, an animal science major from Hay Springs, NE traveling to Casper. Hinman, who rodeoed at Northeastern for three years, was crowned the All-Around Champion Cowboy for the Central Rocky Mountain Region in 2014, finishing second in the calf roping and third in the team roping. The year prior, he qualified for nationals in the steer wrestling. A top contender throughout his time at Northeastern, this year he was dealing with a knee injury which affected his season considerably.
The women’s team from Northeastern will be competing in Casper led by high point earner, Paxton Segelke. Paxton is a business major from Snyder, CO. She finished the 2014-2015 year the Central Rocky Mountain Regional’s reserve women’s all-around cowgirl, a title she earned by having consistently good performance throughout the year, including the regional’s reserve champion in goat tying. Joining her in Casper will be freshman barrel racer and ag business major Cara Jolly from Deer Trail, CO. The third lady on the Northeastern team will is freshman breakaway roper and early childhood education major Skylar Eagles from Center, CO. This is the second time in the last three years that NJC has had a team qualify to go to the CNFR.
All five of the Northeastern students excelled in rodeo during high school and that paved the way for them to earn scholarships at Northeastern. With the exception of Skylar Eagles, these students grew up in families where rodeo has been a way of life. They’ve had parents who have competed since they themselves were teenagers, and they have older siblings who have served as role models for them in the arena and in life in general.
Three of the five students going to nationals are sophomores, and this national finals run will close out their time at Northeastern. Segelke transfers to Eastern New Mexico University at Portales to once again join forces with her older sister Hayden Segelke Todd who was the national all around cowgirl two years back to back during her time at NJC from 2012-2014. Schaack and Hinman are both headed to West Texas A and M in Canyon.
Considered the “Rose Bowl” of college rodeo, top collegiate cowboys and cowgirls from all over the nation will compete in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying. National team championships are also awarded to both men’s and women’s teams. Over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges are expected to be there to compete. You can follow the action at the website, which will have daily results. www.cnfr.com/