The rodeo team at Pearl River Community College is off to a great start this year.
PRCC finished the fall part of its schedule with several riders still in contention for a spot in the College National Finals Rodeo. The top three finishers in each event, plus the top two teams overall advance to the Finals, held next June at Casper, Wyoming.
The Wildcats hold top six rankings in the Ozark Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, the governing body for college rodeo. PRCC is fifth in the men’s standings. They are sixth in the women’s standings. The men have a total of 1,290 points. The women are at 265.
PRCC’s roster is a solid mix of freshmen and sophomores, with several Coast natives leading the way.
“As far as the fall, I’m proud of the work the kids have put in the classroom and competing in rodeos,” PRCC rodeo coach Robby Shaw said. “If we can get everybody on the same page in the spring, we’ll finish strong.”
Sophomore Chelsey Johnson of Poplarville has noticed a difference between from last year.
“Last year we were kind of the underdog first year team,” Johnson said. “ It was like no one really knew what to expect from us as a whole. Now, it's like everybody has just kinda made themselves at home.”
Former Hancock High standout Ryder Ladner, a sophomore, appreciates the support from the administration.
Freshman Chase Graves of Poplarville is fourth in steer wrestling with 275 points, only 28.3 points from third. Sophomore Ryder Ladner, a former Hancock High standout, is ninth in steer wrestling with 135 points. He’s tied for ninth in tie-down roping with 140 points.
Freshman Scott Davis of Lucedale sits fifth in saddle bronc riding with 160 points. Freshman Tyler Stewart of Brandon is sixth in bareback riding with 60 points.
Sophomore Nick Gonzales of Carriere and freshman Austin Tuley of Red Oak, Texas are seventh in team roping, each with 135 points. Ladner and Graves are in a three-way tie for eighth in team roping with 130 points.
The women’s side is also strong, featuring two Poplarville products Abbi Holliday and Johnson. Holliday, a freshman, is tied for ninth in barrel racing with 90 points. Johnson is 11th in goat tying with 95 points. She’s also tied for 15th in goat tying with 80 points.
PRCC will open the spring schedule competing at a rodeo in Meridian, which will be hosted by East Mississippi Community College around mid-February.
With the success of its second-year rodeo program, PRCC is also looking into the future. Next fall, the school plans to host a rodeo in Hattiesburg.