EMCC women win fall rodeo finale, men place third at Murray State event


MURRAY, Ky. — The East Mississippi Community Col­lege rodeo teams closed out the fall portion of their 2021-22 NIRA Ozark Re­gion schedule on a high note by winning the women’s competition and placing third in men’s action this past weekend at the 46th Annual Murray State University Racer Roundup College Rodeo. The three-day event concluded Satur­day evening at the Bill Cherry Expo Center.

Individually, EMCC’s com­petitors claimed three event titles, headlined by reigning College National Finals Rodeo reserve cham­pion Jaylie Matthews con­tinuing her barrel racing dominance. On the men’s side, brothers Cooper and Cade Cowan, out of Mar­shall Academy, captured their second straight re­gional event team roping title, while reigning CNFR participant Myles Neigh­bors earned his fifth career event win in Ozark Region steer wrestling competi­tion.

In claiming their 11th NIRA Ozark Region women’s event team title in school history and second of this year’s fall campaign, the EMCC women have now collected five region event team titles during the past two seasons com­bined. Along with winning at Three Rivers College last month in Sikeston, Mo., they claimed three regional event women’s team titles a year ago on the way to earning a school-first NIRA Ozark Region regular-sea­son team championship and posting a program-best, fourth-place team fin­ish at this past June's College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.

Leading the way again for the EMCC women’s team during the Ozark Region’s fall finale, Jaylie Matthews earned her fourth regional barrel racing win during the five-event fall season after previously prevailing at Mis­souri Valley, West Alabama and Southern Arkansas. With times of 14.32 and 14.49 seconds at Murray State, she collected 170 points to claim her 11th ca­reer Ozark Region regular-season barrel racing victory. The 2019-20 Ozark Region champion previously se­cured three first-place fin­ishes during the pandemic-shortened sea­son two years ago and fol­lowed up with four titles in her specialty event last year.

Placing ahead of co-run­ners-up Pearl River CC and West Alabama, the EMCC women racked up 265 of their 375 total points this past weekend in the barrel racing competition. Mikayla Joh Almond (Olin, NC) and Taycie Matthews finished with 50 and 45 points, respectively.

The Matthews sisters, from Wynne, Ark., have now combined to earn 17 career Ozark Region barrel racing event wins between them dating back to the 2019-20 rodeo season. Tay­cie won five times last year on the way to claiming the 2020-21 Ozark Region reg­ular-season barrel racing title. In addition to having teamed to win all five barrel racing events this fall sea­son in Ozark Region com­petition, the Matthews sis­ters combined to claim nine of the 10 Ozark Region reg­ular-season barrel racing events during the 2020-21 season.

EMCC’s other 110 women’s points earned at Murray State this past weekend were collected by 2021 CNFR participant Blair Bryant (Hatchechubbee, AL). With her times of 2.7 and 3.3 seconds, the Ozark Region’s reigning break­away roping champion placed third in the fall finale.

In men’s competition to conclude the fall slate, the Lions totaled 465 points in three events to finish be­hind runner-up UT Martin (560 pts) and team cham­pion Missouri Valley Col­lege (1,060 pts).

Reigning CNFR partici­pant Myles Neighbors (Benton, AR) garnered his fifth career Ozark Region steer wrestling event title by amassing the maximum 180 points with winning times of 4.0 and 4.1 sec­onds at Murray State. Neighbors previously claimed region event wins during the first three rodeos of the 2019 fall sea­son en route to being de­clared the Ozark Region steer wrestling champion during the pandemic-short­ened 2019-20 season. He also won the 2020 fall sea­son opener at Missouri Val­ley.

Headlined by the Cowan brothers winning their sec­ond straight team roping title to close out the Ozark Region’s fall schedule, the EMCC men tallied a total of 195 team points during the team roping competition this past weekend. In addi­tion to the 170 team points earned by the Cowans after posting times of 5.7 and 5.6 seconds, Neighbors and Scooba product Matt Watt added 25 more points be­tween them by pairing with Southern Arkansas team ropers Garrett Lock and Booker McCutchen, re­spectively.

Aided by a winning sec­ond-round time of 10.1 sec­onds, Watt rounded out the Lions’ third-place total of 465 team points by collect­ing 90 points for his fourth-place finish in the tie-down roping event. Teammate Kota Wilhite, a former Kos­suth High School standout, also advanced to Saturday’s championship round in tie-down roping after winning the first round with a 10.3-second clocking.

Coach Morgan Goodrich’s East Mississippi rodeo teams will head to the midseason break ranked atop the Ozark Re­gion women’s team stand­ings and third on the men’s side, while also currently owning respective national rankings of No. 5 and No. 20 within the NIRA stand­ings.

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