ENMU rodeo team starts season at home

Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank ENMU graduate student Kacey Kobza of Brighton, Colo., practices goat tying for the ENMU College Daze Rodeo today through Saturday at Lewis Cooper Arena in Portales. Kobza competes in goat tying, breakaway and barrels.

Clarence Plank

The Eastern New Mexico University rodeo team kicks off their fall season with the ENMU College Daze Rodeo.

The annual event drew 16 universities and colleges from around the southwest.

“The first rodeo of the season always sets up the rest of the rodeos and can a be a confidence booster,” said ENMU freshman saddle bronc and team roping Ramon Hancock of Blanco. “It seems like everyone is coming out with a lot more confidence this year on the team.”

ENMU sophomore Michael Trujillo, a 2009 College National Finals Rodeo team roping champion, likes the idea of starting at home.

“It is a little bit of an advantage for us because it is our home field,” Trujillo said. “We’ve all been out here and used the facilities, so it is like a football game where you have the home-field advantage.”

Trujillo should know. He quarterbacked the Portales to the 2008 Class 3A state title in football.

ENMU College Daze Rodeo was started in 1963. The three-day event draws 400 to 500 participants every year who compete in steer wrestling, team roping, goat tying, breakaway and roughstock events.

Other ENMU performers to keep an eye on this season include:

• Sophomore Jessie Kirkes, who was an all-round champion at Carlsbad High before coming to ENMU. She is competing in goat tying, breakaway and barrels;

• Sophomore Christian Pettigrew of Fort Sumner who competes in steer wrestling and cattle roping;

• Freshman Gina Flewelling of Lacombe, Canada, who is following in the footsteps of her older brother — senior team roper Tel Flewelling. She competes in goat tying and breakaway.

ENMU rodeo coach Albert Flinn said they have been preparing since May for the rodeo at the Lewis Cooper Arena.

“You get that first rodeo out of the way and the rest you just go to them and participate,” Flinn said. “The focus of the team has been working to get caught up on their classes and grades because of the traveling we’ll be doing for the next five weeks. So you can say their education is what they have been working on.”

What: Eastern New Mexico University College Daze Rodeo

When: 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 9 a.m., slack Friday and Saturday.

Where: Lewis Cooper Arena