By Kevin Wilson
David Browder has been at the College National Finals Rodeo enough times to know a quality competitor when he sees one.
By his standards, the Eastern New Mexico University rodeo coach sees three of them representing his team at this year’s CNFR.
ENMU’s Chance Parsons, Kendra Jones and Dale Vickrey will be making their first appearance at the CNFR Sunday through Saturday in Casper, Wyo.
But Browder thinks all three of them have a shot to compete despite their inexperience.
“My philosophy is if you’re still breathing, you’ve still got a chance,” Browder said. “All three of them have a chance to do very well.”
Possibly the best showing could come from Vickrey, a bull rider who has arguably been ENMU’s best story this season. Vickrey is in the finals rodeo despite breaking his leg earlier this season, and Browder thinks that the Carlsbad junior has a chance to become a national champion.
Part of Browder’s reasoning is that Vickrey never thought of calling it a season following his injury.
“No. Never,” Browder said. “The first thing that came out of his mouth was, ‘I hope it can heal up in time for spring.’ He’s never had a negative attitude and that’s the reason he’s going.”
Vickrey said his approach was to work harder, since the injury put him so far behind. He came back for the Tarleton State University College Rodeo and qualified for last weekend’s College Rodeo Championship Series. At the CRCS, he won the second round with 85.5, which turned out to be all he needed to move on to Casper.
“I had a good doctor put my leg together and he told me it would be five to six months,” Vickrey said. “I knew I had a good shot and I came back riding tougher than before I got hurt. It’s through the grace of God that I got to the conference finals. I got on my bulls and rode them all and did good enough (to qualify for the CNFR).”
Jones, a junior from Sonora, Texas, advanced to the CNFR by posting an 8.7 in the finals of goat tying last weekend. Jones was in a three-way tie for fifth place in the CRCS, but qualified for that national rodeo because two of the competitors ahead of her had previously received automatic byes.
“She’s a really strong competitor in the goat tying. As long as she has consistent runs, she’s going to do very well.”
Jones is in her first season at ENMU, following two years at Odessa College. She also competes in barrel racing and breakaway roping, but did not qualify for the CNFR in either event.
Parsons, who will compete in steer wrestling, is a freshman from Monte Vista, Colo. Browder said that Parsons didn’t have a great spring, but an outstanding fall season was enough to get him a chance to qualify for the CNFR, which he got with a third-place finish in the CRCS.