ISU rodeo off to strong start, particularly women’s team
Idaho State University’s rodeo team is off to a strong start this fall season. Coming off a spring season last year in which eight members competed at the College National Rodeo Finals in Casper, Wyoming, the team is newly energized and ready for another good year.
At the Bengal Roundup Rodeo, ISU’s only home rodeo, on Friday and Saturday night, several members of ISU’s men’s and women’s team placed in a variety of events. Notably, Brant Reynolds placed in the top five in men’s all-around, team roping header, tie-down roping and steer wrestling. Additionally, Mylee Mickelsen took first place in breakaway roping.
Tessa Williams, a sophomore from Idaho Falls who is competing for her second year, said this year’s team has a lot of potential.
“We’ve got a really good group coming up with the freshmen,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of potential there.”
One of the team’s coaches, Kiara Wanner, said there are also many national qualifiers who are returning this year.
“A lot of the kids we took with us to nationals last year are returners, so they should come back really strong, and I think they can make it back again,” Wanner said. “And also tough competition within practice pushes the other people to practice harder. You’re only as good as who you’re practicing with.”
Of the eight team members who competed at nationals last year, five were female. ISU’s rodeo team has always had a strong female presence, according to Timi Lickley, an alumni team member who now competes in professional rodeos.
“When I came here, they had an extremely strong women’s team,” Lickley said. “We won the region every year I was here, and we went to nationals every year and did well there. It’s always been a really strong team.”
Lickley said one of the factors contributing to the strength of the women’s team could be the programs offered at ISU. Since ISU is not typically known as an agriculture school, she said many men choose to go to the more agriculturally focused College of Southern Idaho, making them a tougher competitor.
Wanner also said that the competition from CSI was a part of the women having such a strong presence. However, she said the women’s team has built up a reputation to stand on its own.
“I think because we’ve been so strong for such a long time, word’s got around, and the girls want to come,” Wanner said.
According to JC Lancaster, a sophomore on the team from Jerome, it’s not just ISU that has competitive women.
“The rodeo community in general just has a very strong female presence,” Lancaster said. “Cowgirls are on the up and up for being competitive.”
She added that she believes the female presence in the sport will only grow in the future. According to Lancaster, breakaway roping was recently added to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association as a qualifier.
“We as cowgirls in the sport of rodeo have been really blessed,” Lancaster said. “There’s a lot more opportunities for us to show the world that we can do more than barrels.”
The Bengal Roundup Rodeo was the second college rodeo of the fall season, and the team will compete in three more over the next three weeks before taking a winter break before the start of the spring season.