Ellensburg hosts annual memorial rodeo

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Ellensburg has always been known as a rodeo town and the members of Central’s Rodeo Club are doing their part to keep the iconic culture of Ellensburg alive.

Last weekend, the Rodeo Club held its annual Todd D. Anderson Memorial Rodeo at the Ellensburg Rodeo Arena.

The event attracted college rodeo teams from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Competitive events included breakaway roping, tie-down roping, saddle-bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, team roping and goat tying.

A part of the Northwest Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), Central’s Rodeo Club strives to bring people together through a mutual love of rodeo. This goal was fulfilled last weekend as competitors, students and community members came together in support of college rodeo and its human and animal athletes.

“Production of the rodeo went very well,” said Connor Ackley, senior construction management major and Rodeo Club vice president. “My weekend didn’t go great but that’s how she goes.”

While the weekend was unsuccessful for Central’s competing members, the rodeo was well organized, ran smoothly and had a great show of talent by both human and animal competitors alike.

“One of the ladies up in the office thanked us for how nice it went,” Ackley said. “She said it was the best slack she’d been to all year.”

Central had members competing in breakaway roping, barrel racing, team roping, and goat tying with only one member, Emily Robertson, making it to event finals for barrel racing. Robertson placed ninth in the finals with a time of 18.56 seconds and seventh in the overall average out of 50 barrel-racing competitors.

“My horse, Judge, did wonderful this weekend,” Robertson said. “He did everything I asked him to and we placed better than we ever have at this rodeo.”

This year’s club is small, consisting of about 10 competing members. This has allowed each member to gain experience toward perfecting their event skills.

“Everyone has improved miles,” said Megan Truax, senior business major and Rodeo Club president. “It’s nice having Gerry as our coach and we’ve been getting to practice a lot more and try new things.”

Truax, who competed in breakaway roping, placed sixth on Friday with a time of 5.7 seconds during the evening performance. Truax has been a member of the Rodeo Club for four years and hopes to continue to help the team after her final year of eligibility ends.

New to the club this year is coach Gerry Bremner. Originally from Republic, Wash., Bremner has lived in Ellensburg for 15 years and is excited to be filling the shoes of previous coach Mary Minor.

Though this is Bremner’s first year coaching, he has helped the Rodeo Club with its events for about four years and provided steers for the team to practice on. Bremner is optimistic about the Rodeo Club’s future involvement with the NIRA.

“This year has been good,” Bremner said. “There have been some struggles. As far as competing and stuff, everyone has improved a bunch and stepped up to help out.”

At the end of this season, the Rodeo Club will say goodbye to many of its competing members.

“I think we lose all but three,” Bremner said. “We have some other girls hopefully transferring in.”

When it comes to finding new members, Bremner prefers transfer students and has even encouraged a competitor from another school to think about coming to Central.

“Honestly for me, I like the transfer students because they’re the ones that are serious about school,” Bremner said. “Hopefully next year we’ll be able to pick it up a bit.”

The Rodeo Club holds practice twice a week at Bremner’s ranch during fall and spring and practices at Bloom Pavilion at the Kittitas County Event Center during the winter.

“We may do more depending on how many people we have, but money is also an issue; it’s pretty spendy,” Bremner said.

Bremner notes that it probably costs about $10,000 to put the rodeo on. While the National Rodeo Association helps with some of the cost by paying for Friday’s event, the club must find a variety of sponsors to help cover the rest of the weekend.

Collegiate Sports Clubs and Campus Coordinator Corey Sinclair has been a big help to Bremner this year.

“He’s helped with getting the recruit kids to come in and has helped to point me in the right direction as far as how to navigate the school,” Bremner said.

The Rodeo Club also gets assistance from Sinclair when it comes to finding sponsors for its annual rodeo.

Bremner also competes locally as a team roper and plans to continue as the Rodeo Club coach next year. His goal as coach is to help the team improve its rodeo skills in hopes of making it to the College National Finals Rodeo.

Rodeo is a sport that has something for everyone to enjoy.

“I love rodeo because of the family we competitors have become and the fact that we can be there for each other whether we need to be lifted up or to be cheered on,” Robertson said. “There is no sport like rodeo.”

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