Hayden Segelke is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the recent College National Finals Rodeo.
She was the all-around champion the last two years, while attending Northeastern Junior College in Sterling.
She earned points in barrel racing and goat tying to win her previous all-around titles, but did not qualify in the barrels this year, due to giving her little sister her barrel horse, Rascal.
So instead of dwelling on that, she set her mind on winning her favorite event.
This year, she transferred to Eastern New Mexico University, and the Snyder, Colo., resident was still gunning for another national championship.
Her focus was on the goat tying event.
Segelke had a total time of 25.7 seconds on four runs to win the title.
“It’s always been my goal, to win the goat-tying event. Goat tying has always been my dream, and winning the title was a dream come true,” she said. “I went in one event, and in that event I was successful. I did everything that I could.”
Earning title wasn’t easy. Segelke was thrown from her horse a few weeks before the finals.
“This year was so important because I got bucked off before the college finals and was pretty sore. I had to do a lot of mental preparation,” she stated.
She spends time practicing every day.
“Usually I tie mid-day when it’s hot. I’ll tie anywhere from 30-100 times each day. If I’m tying really well, I’ll tie fewer. If I need more practice, I’ll tie more. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I do it again and again until it’s right,” Segelke explained.
She even made time to practice when she was going to school full-time.
“This last semester I had to sit down and make a schedule so I had time to do everything. That might mean getting up at 5 a.m. When I am at school, I don’t have time to tie goats mid day so I do it at night. We had 18 goats at the school same place where I keep my horses,” she said.
She also competes in barrel racing, breakaway roping and team roping.
“In the barrels I didn’t have Rascal this year, so it’s been a waiting game until I have another horse that’s ready. In the breakaway, I kept ending up one out of the short round. It was all there, but I just wasn’t quite good enough,” she stated.
Segelke has been happy with her move to Eastern New Mexico University.
“I love it down there. I always thought I would go south to Texas or New Mexico. I always knew I’d be down there. There’s not a lot to look at, but I ended up making a family down there. There is so much support from the community. It’s so welcoming,” she said.
She is majoring in history with a minor in biology, and plans to get her master’s degree when she’s finished.
“I want to teach, and that will allow me to teach either history or biology,” she stated.
Segelke has one year left, and plans to pursue rodeo after college as well.
“I’ve got a few colts coming up, and I’d like to take them to the barrel futurities,” she said.
The CNFR, hosted by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, is the “Rose Bowl” of college rodeo.
It is where the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association crowns individual event champions in saddle bronc riding, bare back riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, 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 compete in Casper each year. Contestants compete all year in one of the NIRA’s 11 regions for a chance to rope or ride at the CNFR.
The top three students in each event, and top two men’s and women’s teams from the NIRA’s 11 regions qualified for the CNFR.
All of the competitors who qualifed for the CNFR start on an even playing field. They each competed in three rounds before the championship round. Their scores and times were added together with the best 12 in each event advancing to the finals.
Orin Larsen from Panhandle State University emerged victorious from the bareback riding competition. Larsen transferred from the College of Southern Idaho last fall after winning the title for them in 2013. The Inglis, Manitoba, resident won the title here with 316 points on four rides to beat Tarleton State University’s Richmond Champion by just 1.5 points.
In the team roping, defending champions Billy Bob Brown and Logan Medlin earned their second title with a total time of 26.0 seconds on four runs. Brown, from Tarleton State University did the heading while Medlin from Eastern New Mexico University did the heeling.
Macy Fuller from Central Arizona College, earned the women’s all-around title with 555 points earned in goat tying, barrel racing and breakaway roping. She also had the fastest total time in breakaway roping at 10.6 seconds.
The men’s all-around stayed in Wyoming with Sheridan College’s Taygen Schuelke who earned 415 points in saddle bronc and bull riding.
Two freshman emerged through all four rounds of competition as champions in the tie-down roping and steer wrestling. Taylor Santos-Karney from Cal Poly State University roped and tied four calves in 37 seconds and left Casper sporting a new buckle as college rodeo’s best tie-down roper. In the steer wrestling, it was Cade Goodman from Wharton County Junior College who earned the title with a total time of 21.3 seconds.
Joe Frost was the lone bull rider to be successful on four rides so he earned the title by a lot of points. The Panhandle State University junior had 308.5 points. Frost is a cousin of the late Lane Frost and also related to tie-down roping champion Taylor Santos-Karney.
Other champions CoBurn Bradshaw in the saddle bronc riding for Western Texas College with 311 points on four rides, and barrel racer Taylor Engesser from Gillette College at 55.78 seconds on four runs.
The men’s team title went to the University of Tennessee–Martin with 755 points.
Central Arizona College won the women’s team with 635 points. ❖