Wharton County Junior College rodeo team members garnered national attention at the 2021 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) held from June 11-19 at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper, WY., with three Pioneers grabbing top finishes in the country.
Freshman Cowboys Conner Atkinson of Needville, Logan Moore of Pleasanton and sophomore Cowgirl Mayce Marek of Arp, competed at nationals after advancing out of the Southwest region.
Atkinson had 130 points in tie down roping and the Pioneers’ highest finish coming in third in the nation. His short round time was the fastest off all competitors, but his average placed him at three.
“He was our regional champion,” Pioneers Rodeo coach Sean Amestoy said. “He just ropes outstanding, but outside of that, he’s got great personal character, integrity and work ethic.”
The tie down roping winner had 265 points and was from Panola College, from the Southwest region.
Marek finished 10th in the nation in goat tying with 65 points. Her second run was 6.2 seconds and the third fastest, but her overall time was 33.3 seconds in four timed runs.
In addition, Marek was awarded the Walt Garrison Award, which is given to one athlete who displays exceptional commitment, loyalty, perseverance, honesty and leadership. The award is named for former Dallas Cowboys football player and professional cowboy Walt Garrison.
“She grew up in a lot of challenging circumstances and is far excelled in everything she does. She’s a great person, an outstanding work ethic, drive and any kind of good attribute would apply to her,” Amestoy said.
Each region nominates someone for the award and the CNFR board votes on the award. Marek will continue her rodeo career at Texas A&M Commerce.
Moore finished 20th in the nation in team roping. He roped with his older brother, a former Pioneer who now competes at Sam Houston State.
Overall, Pioneers boys team had 190 points finishing 20th of 50 colleges. Marek scored 65 points helping the Pioneers girls team come in 25th of 37 colleges.
Rodeo competes in the Fall and the Spring. The college team’s first rodeo will be in September.