NMHU's Estrada hopes to make short go at national rodeo

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CNFR concludes Saturday in Wyoming

By Dave Kavanaugh

A strong effort by New Mexico Highlands University rodeo competitior Jesse Estrada has him in the running for the 12-man short go in the ongoing College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.

The show wraps up Saturday.

• Jesse Estrada is in 10th place, at least for now, in the bareback riding category. Estrada, a native of Trementina (approximately 40 miles east of Las Vegas), has covered all three of his horses for the required eight seconds for scores of 53, 64 and 58.5. But there are more riders in the third go-round.

Danny Webb of Feather River College held a slim edge over Steven Peebles of Walla Walla Community College, 233 to 232.5 atop the bareback standings. Forty riders are listed in the standings; the top 12 through three rounds make the final.

• Jose Griego of Las Vegas found himself in a three-way tie for 24th in the bull riding competition; he was to ride again Thursday in the third go.

Griego did not make a qualifying score in the first go-round, although he did tally a 76-point ride on the second try.

According to the CNFR Website, only four bull riders managed to cover both bulls through the first two rounds. And just one — standings leader Chad German of Hill College — has gone three for three. German’s total score of 218 is 53 points better than his closest rival.

The best ride to date, however, belongs to Cameron Bland of Wharton County Junior College; Bland posted an 84 in the second go-round.

• In breakaway roping, NMHU’s Devyn Dennison is in 19th place through three rounds — close to the finals cut; teammate Sarah Zybach is 39th with her last go-round remaining.

Dennison posted times of 15.1 and 13.6 in the first and third go-rounds, respectively; she did not score in the second round.

Zybach had a sharp 2.8 — one of the better times in the entire competition — to open, but she could not rope a qualifying time in the next round. She was to rope again Friday.

Michele Lyons of WWCC had a 3.8, 2.8 and 5.0 to take the top spot on the leaderboard going into the finals.

Western Texas College, with 435 points, leads the men’s team standings. New Mexico State is 11th with 240; Eastern New Mexico is 31st  with 95. NMHU is 53rd with 5.

On the women’s side, University of Nevada-Las Vegas leads with 300 points, 5 points ahead of South Plains College. NMSU is fourth with 235.  Highlands is a respectable 18th with 65.

NMHU is coached by Jon Peek, a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Peek said he’s proud of his team — which boasted a high mark in terms of its number of nationals qualifiers — and hopes to qualify an even larger contingent next season.

For more sports coverage, please see the weekend edition of the Optic, available Friday.