HU rodeo wraps nationals run

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Three New Mexico Highlands University rodeo athletes came away with valuable experience gained at last week’s College National Finals Rodeo held in Casper, Wyo.

Sarah Zybach of NMHU finished 31st in goat tying competition after missing the short go. Zybach was in the hunt after round one, having posted a time of 7.1 seconds. She had a time of 8.4 in round two and a 9.7 in round three for an aggregate time of 25.2. That left her out of the top 12, the cut-off for the Saturday championship round.

Teammate Dixie Richards wound up 50th. Richards opened with an 11.3, recovering with a 7.2 in the second round. But she did not have a qualifying score in the third round.

Jordan Thurston of Gillette College (Wyo.) averaged less than 6.8 seconds through the first three rounds, then punctuated her week with a 6.2 time in the short go to clinch the championship in goat tying.

Meanwhile, Highlands’ Dirk Tavenner finished 31st in steer wrestling.

Tavenner pinned his first steer in 8.5 seconds. After failing to score in round two, he had one of the best times in round three — a 4.5.

But that effort wasn’t enough to bump Tavenner into the top 12 for the short go.

Taylor Nahrgang of University of Montana-Western set the tone early with his opening round 3.4 and held on to take the event title.

NMHU bareback rider Jesse Estrada had qualified for nationals (his second straight season of doing so), but he did not end up competing.

For Zybach, an outgoing senior from Briscoe, Texas, the trip to the College National Finals Rodeo marked the end of her successful collegiate career at NMHU.

According to the CNFR, more than 400 cowboys and cowgirls representing more than 100 schools compete in the event.