Winning the College National Finals Rodeo is a dream that many rodeo contestants have from the time they are very young. For one Colorado college student, that dream became a reality.
Hayden Segelke, a student at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., can now claim that she is the women's all around champion. She earned this title at the 64th CNFR, which was held in Casper, Wyo., from June 10-16 at the Casper Events Center.
Segelke, who grew up in Snider, Colo., competed in the barrel racing and the goat typing at the finals. She placed second in the first go-round, first in the second go-round, and would have broken the arena record in the third go-round but knocked over a barrel during her run. She finished second in the average in the barrels, and sixth in the goat-tying event.
"It was really neat. I thought I put myself out of it after I hit a barrel in the third go round, but I had enough points from the early rounds to win it, so it was kind of a surprise. It was bittersweet. I still won the all-around, and I couldn't ask for much more," she said.
Segelke trained the barrel horse she uses, who is a 6-year-old gelding she calls Rascal. The horse she used for the goat tying was actually her little sister's heading horse, and the finals was the first time she had used him for the goat tying event.
"It was kind of funny because the whole reason I used him was because I hurt my knee, and he's really honest and I was confident on him even though it was the first time I ever used him. He is a 14-year-old gelding named Beau," she stated.
Segelke has rodeoed her entire life, and both of her parents were involved so she grew up in it. She competes in the barrels, goat tying and breakaway roping. She is studying history, and hopes to continue to be involved with rodeo even after she finishes college.
"I've got a pretty neat barrel horse, and I want to see where he can go. I'd like to do some rodeoing futurity with four or five year old horses. I broke and trained the horse that I use in the barrels now, and want to continue doing that," Segelke said.
Another set of students who competed well at the finals was the team roping duo of Shay Carroll, who is a heeler from NJC and Tyler Schnaufer, a header from the University of the Wyoming. This pair has roped together for the last 14 years, and have wanted to win at the national level since they were kids.
"It was exciting. It had been a goal of ours for a long time. It meant a lot to us, and to everyone who has supported us the last 14 years we have been roping together," Carroll said.
He added, "We started when we were really little. We came along together, and improved together and we get along really good together."
Even though the boys do not attend the same college, they can still rope together. "As long as you are in the same region, you can rope with anyone who attends college in the same region as you," he said.
The next two years the duo will no longer be able to rope together, as Carroll is heading to finish college at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. However, they hope to meet back up after he finishes school.
"I'd like to rodeo full time, and team rope with Tyler again at some point," Carroll said.
Carroll also finished second in the all-around race. Schnaufer's team finished fifth in the men's division. Both men are from La Junta, Colo.
In the team championships, the team from Central Wyoming College in Riverton, Wyo., placed second. The coach for the team, Rick Smith and his wife Lynn, who coaches the women's team, were proud of their girls and the way they competed.
"This is the highest we have ever placed. We had four women who went to the finals. They are good, hard working, dedicated girls. I think they are the best class of girls we have ever had. They are really outstanding individuals, not just in the arena but in life," Rick Smith said.
To be a rodeo coach, Smith must know about all the events, and help to motivate the students to get better. Lacey Tech, one of the members of the team, finished first in the goat tying event.
"We try to get them prepared. We practice a lot - all year in fact. We try to teach them to be positive. The same things that work in all sports work in rodeo. Those things are training, good attitude and fitness. To be the best you need to work," he said.
He added, "You also have to have talent. We spend time recruiting and you have to practice. It wouldn't happen unless the kids have talent. You won't win anything."
Smith has been the coach in Riverton for 17 years. "The coaching position came up and I thought I would give it a try. Things seemed to work out pretty good so I kept doing it," he said.
He recently left his position at Central Wyoming College for a coaching position at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz. "It was a good opportunity for us," he said.
The College National Finals Rodeo 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, Wyo., 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 will qualify for the CNFR.
College Nationals Finals Rodeo 2012 Results
Men's All-Around - Final
1. Palmer, Bryce K., Walla Walla Community College, 365.0
2. Carroll, Shay D., Northeastern Junior College, 280.0
3. DeForest, Chant J., Western Oklahoma State College,255.0
4. Santos-Karney, Lane Cal Poly State University, 210.0
5. Ketscher, Jordan J., California State University-Fresno, 210.0
Men's Teams - Interim
1. Walla Walla Community College, 750.0
2. Sam Houston State University, 670.0
3. Missouri Valley College, 530.0
4. Utah Valley University, 530.0
5. University of Wyoming, 455.0
Women's All-Around - Final
1. Segelke, Hayden S., Northeastern Junior College, 195.0
2. Moyer, Kaylee M., Panhandle State University, 160.0
3. Corkill, Bailey R., University of Nevada, 120.0
4. Baty, Brianne D., Treasure Valley Community College, 50.0
Women's Teams - Interim
1. Texas Tech University-Lubbock, 423.3
2. Central Wyoming College, 335.0
3. Sam Houston State University, 300.0
4. Mesalands Community College, 295.0
5. University of Nevada, 265.0
* Results courtesy of National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association