The top collegiate rodeo athletes in the west coast will compete at the 80th annual Poly Royal Rodeo Finals, held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 at the on-campus Cotton Rosser Rodeo Complex.
Participants will compete for championship titles in several events, including barrel racing, team, breakaway and tie-down roping, saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding, and steer wrestling.
The event will also feature a concert by country music duo Thompson Square.
The Poly Royal Rodeo is one of the largest on-campus attractions during Cal Poly’s Open House, according to a press release from Cal Poly News. This year’s rodeo will be the first since the pandemic began in 2020, the last rodeo being hosted in 2019.
The first Poly Royal Rodeo was held at the same on-campus rodeo complex in 1942. The event has been held at Spanos Stadium in recent years, but will return to its original location while the stadium is closed for turf replacement.
“It’s exciting to be back at the practice arena and get a super personal feel with the crowds,” Cal Poly rodeo team member and agriculture senior Tyree Cochrane said. “The stadium is amazing and loud and super fun, but there’s nothing better than getting back to our start at the rodeo grounds.”
The first round of competition will take place Friday, April 8, also at the on-campus rodeo complex. Attendance for the first round of competition will be limited, but the finals are open to the public, with tickets on sale now.
ASI will host an additional student night, also at the rodeo complex, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, with gates opening at 4:30 p.m.
The Cal Poly rodeo team also worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to ensure 12-year-old Maddie Owens of Winton, California could participate in the competition. She will make an appearance at the Poly Royal as a barrel racer and a special guest of Cal Poly.
Maddie was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, at age 10. She has since undergone treatment and surgery, and is now preparing for the Poly Royal.
Maddie met the Cal Poly rodeo team in early February for her first training session. She also met Oscar, the horse she will be competing with at the Poly Royal.
Maddie will return to Cal Poly in March, when she and Oscar will be running their first competition together at the Cal Poly rodeo team’s weekly barrel racing jackpot series.
“We had an absolute blast with Maddie,” Sierra Spratt, a Cal Poly rodeo team member and an agricultural education graduate student, said. “At the end of the trip, she gave us yellow bracelets that said ‘#TeamMaddie, Ewing Sarcoma sucks and Jesus heals.’ We’re all still wearing them.”