SIKESTON, Mo. – Led by five individual first-place finishes, the East Mississippi Community College rodeo team claimed the women's title and placed runner-up in the men's competition this past weekend at Three Rivers College's Championship College Rodeo. The three-day NIRA Ozark Region fall event concluded Saturday night at the Art Saunders Arena at the Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo grounds.
For the EMCC women, freshman Jaylie Matthews and sophomore Blair Bryant combined for all of the team's 375 first-place points. The world's second-ranked barrel racer in the International Professional Rodeo Association, Matthews earned the maximum 180 points in her specialty event for the second straight week of regional competition with winning times of 16.72 and 16.61 seconds. The Wynne, Arkansas native also claimed the barrel racing event the previous week at the University of West Alabama's College Rodeo Showdown.
Bryant collected 165 points by winning the breakaway roping competition with a combined time of 6.6 seconds in her two runs. The Hatchechubbee, Alabama native also picked up 30 team points in the team roping competition by pairing with West Alabama's Wyatt McCann.
Also for the East Mississippi women, 2018 College National Finals Rodeo participant Carli Hodges (Summerdale, AL) earned 20 individual points in barrel racing, while freshman Mikayla Joh Almond (Olin, NC) also advanced to Saturday's barrel racing finals.
The University of Arkansas at Monticello finished runner-up behind EMCC in the women's team competition with 205 points. West Alabama and Missouri Valley College followed with 180 and 175 points, respectively.
In the men's standings, East Mississippi totaled 590 team points with three individual first-place finishes to claim team runner-up honors behind Missouri Valley's winning total of 795 points. West Alabama and the University of Tennessee at Martin followed close behind with 555 and 550 points, respectively.
Individually for the Lions, sophomore Myles Neighbors (Benton, AR) continued his red-hot fall by claiming his third consecutive steer wrestling event to begin the 2019-20 collegiate rodeo season. Neighbors earned 140 more points this past weekend to give the 2018 Jr. Ironman champion 500 total points in his specialty event through the first three rodeos of the year.
EMCC freshman Sam Morgan (Davie, FL) also got in on the winning action at the Three Rivers-hosted rodeo by prevailing in the tie down roping event with a first-place total of 150 points. Recently selected to participate in next year's Jr. Ironman Championship, Morgan posted times of 10.1 and 10.4 seconds this past weekend to narrowly edge out his competition.
Through the first three events of the 2019-20 NIRA Ozark Region schedule, East Mississippi Community College currently sits in second place overall in the women's standings (behind Missouri Valley) with 855 total points and fourth in the men's standings with 1,290 total points.
Coach Morgan Goodrich's EMCC rodeo team will take a three-week break from NIRA Ozark Region competition before returning to action, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas.