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Fall Rodeo Season Comes to a Close

By Jessica Bergan
UWRF Communications

JAN. 23, 2009—After months of preparation—and four successful competitions—the end of the fall rodeo season came too fast for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Rodeo Team. An expanded rodeo team competed in four Great Plains Region Rodeos in River Falls; Ames, Iowa; Dayton, Iowa; and Fargo, N.D.

Twenty-three students, including eight freshmen, participated in the rodeos. Participating in roping events were: Ali Clements, a junior sociology major from Readstown; Cullan Hewitt, a junior agricultural studies major from Shell Lake; Ashley Horsch, a junior food science major from Saint Joseph, Minn.; Alicia Melbostad, a junior animal science major from Ellsworth; Laura Taysom, a sophomore pre-professional major from Arcadia; and Seth Weir, a sophomore agricultural engineering tech. major from Lake Elmo, Minn.

Aaron Olson, junior biotechnology major from Shawano, competed in bull riding. Elisabeth Golat, a senior marketing communications major of Bruce; Angela Olson, a senior animal science major from Cambridge, Minn.; Hadley Murphy, a freshman animal science major from Rochester, Minn.; Rachel Downs, a freshman animal science major from Proctor, Minn.; Hannah Hojan, a freshman pre-major from Merrill; Jessica Bergan, a sophomore agricultural education major from Peterson, Minn.; Annie Schaal, a senior animal science major from Forest Lake, Minn.; Cherish Calkins, a sophomore accounting major from Woodbury, Minn.; Clarissa Clymer, a sophomore animal science major from Afton, Minn.; Jordan Cook, a freshman animal science major from Oconto Falls; Laura Taysom; Audra Zentner, a freshman business administration major from Stoughton; Samatha Emmons, a sophomore animal science major from Greendale; Kathleen Vignali, a freshman physics major from Wausau; MacKenzie Cole, a freshman biology major from Hillsdale; Charlotte Sandgren, a junior accounting major from River Falls and Kalina Studenski, a freshman animal science major from Sauk Rapids, Minn. all competed in barrel racing.

Senior team captain Elisabeth Golat said the size of the team was initially overwhelming. “At first, I was very overwhelmed because I put every ounce of myself into meeting the needs of my teammates, but everything turned out just fine,” she said. “This year, we have a group of highly motivated men and women who love the sport of rodeo and who make my job joyful. … Hanging out with those crazy horse people is one of my favorite things to do.”

Ready for the spring season, which starts in April, currently the UWRF’s men’s team is placed 10th overall with help from Hewitt currently in 11th place in tie down roping and 14th as a header in the team-roping event. UWRF is in the number five spot in the women’s team competition with Cook currently winning the barrel racing competition and Cole running in ninth place.

Todd Kirshbaum, the rodeo team’s volunteer coach for 12 years, said working with the team is still a joy. “I was happy with what I’ve seen for the most part and I think everyone made good progress over the fall that will carry over to the spring,” Kirshbaum said. He said he was eager to see how the team would do this fall not knowing what to expect after a former team member, who won the entire barrel racing competition last year, transferred.

Golat said she will miss everyone on the team next year, especially Kirshbaum. “It doesn’t matter who it is or what they need help with, Todd is there. Todd loves his team, always has and always will.

“The fall of 2008 was amazing. I have been on the rodeo team since the fall of 2006 and this is the best team I have seen. With new and returning members this year, I can see how supportive everyone is and how excited they are when either they or a teammate do well,” Golat said.

Cook, a UWRF barrel racer who is currently in first place for the Great Plains Region, says she is overwhelmed with joy. Her horse, Twister, has gone through many times of trial since they first started barrel racing together, from being on the brink of death last winter to being a competitive college rodeo horse this year.

Through the good and the bad, Cook says Twister has been her right-hand horse. “I have always had a tremendous love for horses and have never been afraid of speed, so barrel racing just seemed like the perfect event for me." During the River Falls Rodeo, Cook was so astounded that she placed first that she cried. She claims it was the single greatest experience of her life.

“There is nothing like being around people who love the same thing as you do. The sights and smells of a rodeo are so unique and unforgettable.” Cook expressed her passion for this great sport. “Barrel racing is one big adrenaline rush. When you hear your name called over the loud speaker, your heart jumps in your throat. Your horse feels your excitement and he feeds off it, prancing his way toward the arena. As you turn up the alleyway, the smell of the arena drifts into your nose, the roar of the crowd fills your ears, your heart beat echoes in your ears, you can feel the raw power underneath you just waiting for your cue to let loose.

“You hear your time, good or bad, and you share that special moment between you and your horse when you smile and stroke his neck,” she says. “He knows what you’re saying without ever having to speak a single word.” Kirshbaum said that the freshmen stepped up and helped as much as they could and he is looking forward to next year’s rodeo with a few minor changes in store. “I do think from what I have seen this fall, we have a pretty bright future ahead of us and I can’t wait for spring,” he said.”


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:23 Central Daylight Time


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