Three Eastern New Mexico University rodeo athletes have qualified for the 2005 College National Finals Rodeo June 12-18 at Casper, Wyo.
The ENMU qualifiers are senior Dusty Higgins of Roswell (bull riding), James Gilliland of Tularosa (team roping) and freshman Brittany Bennett of Portales (barrel racing).
The top three finishers in each region qualify for the CNFR. It’s the second consecutive year Eastern has qualified three athletes for the national event.
Higgins was the Southwest Region bull riding champion while Gilliland finished second among team-roping healers. Bennett, a Dora High graduate, was second in barrel racing.
Higgins fell just short of qualifying last year when he was fourth in the region in bull riding.
During the season, Higgins won at the Weatherford College Rodeo, where he was named all-around Cowboy. He was second in two other rodeos and tied for third in another.
Gilliland, teaming with headers from other schools, took first place in two rodeos this year while finishing second once and third once.
Bennett qualified for the short go just twice in six spring rodeos, but was first or second in all four Southwest Region rodeos during the fall season.
Three other ENMU athletes finished in the sixth in the region this year — senior Chance Pettigrew of Clovis (Melrose H.S.) in steer wrestling; sophomore Stetson Herrera of Marvel, Colo., in bareback riding, and freshman Raelyn Gardner of Lovington in goat tying.
ENMU coach David Browder was named Southwest Region Coach of the Year. The men’s team finished fourth in the region, less than seven points out of third, while the men were fifth.
The men captured team championships in rodeos at Weatherford and Odessa College, while the women took team honors at West Texas A&M.