EMCC to host intercollegiate rodeo


MERIDIAN — East Mississippi Community College's 8th Annual Intercollegiate Rodeo will take place Feb. 20-22 at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center in Meridian.

Gates open at 7 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $10 at the door and $5 for students. Admission is free for children age 5 and younger.

Men's and women's rodeo teams from 10 colleges and universities in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, who comprise the Ozark Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), will compete in the event.

Competitive events include bareback riding, tie-down roping, breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, goat tying, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

Children's events include a calf scramble for those age 6-10 and a pig scramble for children 5 and younger.

The rodeo is the spring opener for the Ozark Region. Each year, contestants compete for points in hopes of making it to the College National Finals Rodeo to be held in June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo.

"This is a highly talented group of kids who will be competing at the spring opener and it should be a great rodeo," EMCC head rodeo coach Morgan Goodrich said. "We would like to encourage everyone to come out to support our athletes and enjoy the event."

EMCC's rodeo team closed out the fall portion of the NIRA Ozark Region schedule last November at the Murray State University Racer Roundup, during which the women's team finished third and the men's team placed fourth.

EMCC's rodeo teams both enter the spring portion of the 2019-20 NIRA Ozark Region schedule ranked nationally, with the women at 16th and the men at 17th. As a team, the women currently sit in second place within the Ozark Region standings with 1,225 team points behind only nationally 11th-ranked Missouri Valley College. The men's team is ranked fourth within the regional standings with 2,200 team points, just behind third place West Alabama.

Both teams won regional events during the fall campaign, with the women winning the first week of October at Three Rivers College in Sikeston, Mo., and the men's team following suit with a first-place team finish during the next regional event held in early November at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Ariz.

The men's team also finished second at Three Rivers College, while the women finished third during each of the other four fall rodeos.

Individually for EMCC, Myles Neighbors enters the spring rodeo season as the NIRA's top-ranked collegiate steer wrestler with 740 total points, including three straight titles in his specialty event to begin the fall season.

On the women's side, EMCC freshman Jaylie Matthews presently tops the collegiate ranks in barrel racing with 700 total points, including three titles in her specialty event during the fall campaign. Matthews is also the reigning 2019 International Professional Rodeo Association's world champion barrel racer.

Also for the EMCC men, freshman Sam Morgan currently ranks fifth nationally and second in the Ozark Region standings in tie down roping, or calf roping, with 460 total points. He has been chosen to compete in this year's Jr. Ironman Championship, March 13-15, in Guthrie, Okla.

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