Rowdy Moon, of Sargent, and Aukai Kaai, of Johnstown, Colo., show off championship jackets on Monday, following a college rodeo in Spearfish, S.D. The men, both members of the Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team, won their events at the Will Lantis Yellow Jacket Stampede.
A bareback rider on the Mid-Plains Community College Rodeo Team is headed to nationals.
Rowdy Moon, of Sargent, won the bareback riding at the Will Lantis Yellow Jacket Stampede in Spearfish, S.D. over the weekend. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association event was hosted by Black Hills State University.
Moon scored 70 points on his first bronc Friday. On Saturday, Moon had a 61-point ride, but because his horse wasn't performing as well as it should have been, he was granted a re-ride.
Moon earned 70 points on that re-ride, which gave him the aggregate win by two points over region leader Blake Smith, of Dickinson State University.
"With that win, Rowdy clinched a spot at the College National Finals Rodeo," said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. "In fact, after he got off his bucking horse in the first round, I knew he was headed to the CNFR. When he got back behind the chutes, I held out my hand and smiled at him. He gave me a weird look, and I said, 'Congratulations, you're headed to finals. No one can catch you now.' The look on his face was priceless."
It was a great turnaround following Moon's luck at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln rodeo April 15-16. There, a judge claimed Moon missed his horses out, meaning he didn't have his spurs over the point of the broncs' shoulders when the animals came out of the chutes and their front feet hit the ground.
"Rowdy really bounced back in South Dakota," said Elliott. "He just continued to do what he does, and I noticed he over-exaggerated the mark out, which is what he needed to do. He also made a good move in taking the re-ride when it was offered to him."
Aukai Kaai, of Johnstown, Colo., also won his event in Spearfish. Kaai claimed the bull riding title and Trey Engel, of Silver Creek, was right behind him in second.
"Aukai finally put together a good bull ride," said Elliott. "I think he was getting frustrated enough to get aggressive, and by doing so, he put himself in a position to still make the college finals. Had he not won this weekend, his chance for finals would have been nonexistent. With the win, he's mathematically still in the running."
Duell Puttergill, of Tryon, placed fourth in saddle broncs at the stampede, and Riley Weehler, of Mount Ayr, Iowa, was fifth in the steer wrestling. MPCC placed fifth overall in the team standings – up two places from the week before.
The team has two more rodeos left this season. The next will be in Hastings Friday and Saturday. That will be followed by a rodeo in Dickinson, N.D. May 6-7.