The Idaho State University Rodeo Team is having another stellar year. The women’s team is ranked No. 1 in their region and nation heading into the College National Finals Rodeo June 15-21 in Casper, Wyo.
“It’s been an incredible year for our women’s team so far and both our women’s and men’s teams will have representatives competing hard at nationals,” said Melisa Moon Giannini, ISU Rodeo Club advisor. “We have great athletes, coaches and stock, and excellent community and university support, and we’re excited that our coach, Jared Arave, was honored as Rocky Mountain Region Coach of the Year.”
The ISU Rodeo Club Women’s Team is the defending College National Finals Rodeo champion. The team is led by Kimberlyn Fitch, Shelby Freed and Megan Gunter, who finished in the top three Women’s All-Around spots, respectively, during the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Rocky Mountain Region 2013-14 season in the Women’s All-Around. They, along with Mallory Driscoll, will all be competing at the national rodeo as the ISU Women’s team.
The top three finishers in the region in each event qualify for the national rodeo.
Fitch, from American Falls, is also ranked No. 1 in the region in Barrel Racing and Breakaway Roping, and leads the nation in the All-Around points heading into nationals.
“I can’t say enough about how well Kimberlyn has performed this year,” Giannini said. “We hope she can continue the success she achieved last year at nationals.”
Last year, Fitch won the breakaway roping, earned seventh in barrel racing, and won Reserve All-Around, (second place in the all-around competition). To top it off, she was CNFR Rookie of the year.
But Fitch isn’t the only Bengal that finished ranked No. 1 in an event at the end of the Rocky Mountain Region’s 10-rodeo season: Gunter was the No. 1 Team Roping Header. She teamed with her brother Dallen Gunter, who was the No. 1 Team Roping Heeler in the region. The brother-sister roping team from McCammon will compete at nationals in this event.
Freed, from Pocatello, also finished second in Break Away Roping and third in the region in Goat Tying, and Mallory Driscoll, from American Falls, finished third in Barrel Racing and will compete in Casper in this event.
Brady Pitchford, from Montpelier, finished third in Tie Down Roping and will be representing the Men’s Team in Casper.
Giannini expressed their gratitude to the team’s three coaches, all from Blackfoot, who are Arave, Tony Barrington and Bobbie Jorgensen Ryan.
“Our teams have been fortunate to have such great coaching,” she said.
Other top competitors for the ISU Rodeo Club that placed in the top 10 in the region, but won’t be heading to nationals, are Tayson Smith, seventh in Bull Riding; Cassidy Quinn, and Freed, fifth and eighth in Barrel Racing; Ekstrom and Gunter, sixth and seventh, Breakaway Roping; and Kiara Wanner, ninth in Goat Tying.
The ISU Rodeo Club’s Men’s Team finished seventh in the Rocky Mountain Region this year.
In collegiate rodeo there are 11 regions nationally, but only one division. Thus club teams such as ISU compete against larger schools where rodeo may be a sanctioned sport.
The Rocky Mountain Region, which ISU competes in, is traditionally one of the powerhouse conferences featuring, among other good teams, the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls and Weber State University, each that have won championships. The Rocky Mountain Region consists of 10 colleges and universities with approximately 130 student athletes competing in the regional rodeos.
For information on the College National Finals Rodeo, visit www.cnfr.com.