Walla Walla Community College brought down the curtain on its annual college rodeo and partnership with child abuse prevention in rodeo action Sunday at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds indoor arena.
Sunday climaxed the three-day, four-performance rodeo and featured the championship short go.
“Even though the weather was rather marginal, it was a good overall weekend,” Warriors rodeo coach Buster Barton said. “As usual, we had great crowds and great competition. With the partnership between the Exchange (Club), the school, and the child abuse council, it’s a great thing.”
The Warriors crowned two individual event champions. Tommie Hoyecki took home the barrel racing crown, and Taylor Duby won the steer wrestling.
Hoyecki came into Sunday’s championship go with a .25-second lead, based on her 14.07 first run.
Hoyecki was a little slower, but ran the barrels in 14.09 on Sunday. Her Sunday run topped Blue Mountain’s Emily Sorey’s 14.28 run.
Hoyecki produced an average of 28.16 on two runs to out distance the field and earn the rodeo title.
“We ride in that arena every day (for practice),” Hoyecki said. “My horse has always excelled in that arena. (Today) it was a little slower (than the first run), but I just focused on not hitting a barrel. I wanted to make a good, clean, solid run.”
Hoyecki, a WWCC sophomore, just missed making it to the National Collegiate Finals rodeo last season, and has her sights set on making the 2016 finals.
“I’ve been doing pretty good and my horse is working good this year,” Hoyecki said. “Last year, I hit a barrel and was one out of making it to the finals, but this year should be a good year.”
“She (Hoyecki) smoked two runs,” Barton said. “She’s an incredible cowgirl with great horsepower.”
The Warriors, possibly reflecting Barton’s professional experience and expertise, placed six out of 10 finalists in steer wrestling.
Duby came in with a 6.1 first run, four-one-hundredths seconds off of teammate Cody McCleary’s leading 5.7.
Duby got his steer down in 6.6 on Sunday, and McCleary didn’t have the same luck as it took 8.0 to get his steer to the ground.
Duby posted a 12.7 average on two to take home the title.
“I was consistent,” Duby said. “I tried to be on the barrier and make a good run both times. Just go knock them down and get points. In bulldogging, you’ve got to be on the barrier because it’s such a fast start. You’ve got to take a run at the barrier and be right there. My first run was a little smoother, and the second steer was a little stronger.”
Duby recognized the influence of having someone who has been there and done that as a coach.
“That’s his (Barton’s) event,” Duby said of his coach. “When I first got here, I was pretty green at it. He’s helped me come a long ways.”
“That is kind of Walla Walla tradition,” Barton said of having six steer wrestlers in the finals. “We were represented well there and in the other events.”
In bareback, Blue Mountain’s Kenny Haworth had the ride of the day with a 77.
Warrior cowboy Coleson Mellergaard, in his first year of bareback, rode both of his horses, posting a 61 Sunday and an average of 119 on two head.
Oregon State’s Michael Pederson had a 10.00 run in tie-down roping to win the Sunday go, and his average of 19.4 on two won the rodeo.
Blue Mountain’s Danyelle Williams made a 3.1 Sunday run in breakaway roping for the second fastest Sunday run behind Central’s Kelsey Streeter’s 2.8. But Williams took the title with a 6.1 on two.
The three horses won the saddle bronc event, as no cowboy made a Sunday whistle.
Central’s Rachel Richards won the goat tying with an 8.5 Sunday run and 16.1 on two.
The team roping went down to the last two teams.
Jordan Tye and Jared Parke, last out of the chute, made a 7.9 run, which came up just short. Cole Lickley and Dillon Hollyfied took the title with a 15.6 on two, compared to Tye and Parke’s 15.7 on two.
The Warriors continue their March to the June Rodeo Finals in Casper, Wy., with action in Milton-Freewater on April 15.
“This team doesn’t have a ton of rodeo experience,” Barton said. “The region is tougher than its ever been. Treasure Valley, Blue Mountain and us are battling it out. It’s fun. We have all the capability and talent in the world. I’m excited about us.”