Some things never change. At the midpoint of the college rodeo season, once again the Weatherford College men and women have several team members among the top competitors for a spot in the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, next June.
The Coyotes have sent competitors to the national finals each of the past 15 seasons.
The WC men are fourth in the team standings of the Southwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association with 1,158.33 points. Tarleton leads with 2,470 points, followed by Clarendon with 2,020 and Texas Western College with 1,820.
As for the women, the Coyotes are sixth with 437.50 points. South Plains leads the region with 900, with Texas Tech second at 785 and Tarleton third at 715.75
The top two teams and top three individuals in each event advance to Casper.
"It's kind of been an up-and-down year for us so far. On the bright side we have had 17 guys and 10 girls qualify for a short round and win points this year, which says a lot about our depth," Weatherford College Coach Johnny Emmons said. "I still believe we have a very talented team, and I have been proud of the way they have represented this first half."
Lane Cooper and Blake Bentley have been solid all season, having placed at all five rodeos. Cooper leads the region in team roping-header with 475 points and is ranked fourth nationally. Bentley leads the region in team roping-heeler, also with 475 points, and ranks fifth in the nation.
Both Cooper and Bentley have previously qualified for the CNFR. Cooper also won a Southwest Region championship in 2018.
"They are on a mission to win a national championship, and I think they can do it," Emmons said.
Several others are among the top 10 in the region in their respective competitions at the season's midpoint.
Defending Southwest Region tie-down roping champion Kasen Brennise has struggled in that event, thanks largely to horse injuries, but he has made the short go in team roping three times and is ranked seventh in the header competition with 155 points.
Hadley Miller ranks sixth in bull riding with 160 points.
Kodey Hoss, who set a team record in goat tying with a time of 6.1 seconds and 13.0 for two to win the title at Vernon, has placed three times this season and is currently ranked fourth with 267.5 points (2.5 points out of third and 10 out of second).
"I look for her to be a very serious threat for making the CNFR in goats this year," Emmons said.
Sara Angelone has placed three times in breakaway roping, putting her fifth for the season with 160 points.
"Sara has roped really well this year in a very tough and competitive event. She definitely has the talent, and I expect her to come back strong in the spring and make a run at the CNFR," Emmons said.
Also, former CNFR team roper Kade Smith has had trouble this year after placing at Portales. "He and Kirby Blankenship (Sul Ross) will be a threat in the second half," Emmons said.
A pair of former Coyotes lead their respective divisions in the Southwest Region. Bristan Kennedy of Texas Tech sits atop the barrel racing standings, and Taylor Schmidt of Tarleton is leading in breakaway roping. Kennedy, who won a regional championship last season for the Coyotes, is also ranked fifth nationally.