CANYON, Texas (KFDA) - Many sports were shutdown last year due to COVID-19, including college rodeo. West Texas A&M is thrilled to be back in the saddle and looking to land a spot in the College National Finals.
“It’s an adrenaline rush because you’re sitting back there. You and your horse know both that whenever that calf leaves you’ve got to give it your heart just to get it caught,” said Randall High alum Kallen Johnson. “Be as fast as you can be.”
“When he got here he roped good, but he’s really matured a lot in his roping and I think they way he thinks and looks at it,” said WT Head Coach Raymond Hollabaugh. “He’s made several of the short go’s this year and won money.”
West Texas A&M freshman Johnson is one of 40 athletes looking to represent the Buffs in the College National Finals Rodeo. Only three athletes advance in each event per region, and the Southwest Region is one of the most competitive.
“We’ll compete against like Tech which is D1 or a junior college,” said Johnson. “We’re pretty much all thrown together at these rodeos.”
“We’ve got a couple barrel racers that have done good and a couple of team ropers that have done good, so we’ve got a lot of chances overall,” said Hollabaugh.
Johnson’s fastest time this season in tiedown roping was 8.7 seconds at Clarendon, and he owes a lot of that speed to his 16-year-old paint horse, Hidalgo.
“He loves it. Every time I get him out of the pen he’s standing at the gate waiting for me.”
West Texas A&M Rodeo appreciates the community support. Last year, they awarded over 20 scholarships.
“The people in this community and the school have really backed this program and that’s a really good thing for us,” said Hollabaugh.
“We get to run all the calves we want. Raymond he really helps me,” said Johnson. “It’s just a great atmosphere to learn to win.”
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