Summer vacation may have to wait for a select group of students. The Cal Poly rodeo team will spend its first couple days of summer competing at the National Intercollegiate Rodeo College Finals.
The Cal Poly rodeo team dominated the West Coast region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). After competing in nine rodeos, the team won both the men’s and women’s team divisions.
Nine members will travel to Casper, Wyo. to compete in the NIRA College Finals, coach Frank Mello said.
The college rodeo season lasts from September to May with the finals rodeo in June. Cal Poly is in the West Coast region and competes against eight other universities and junior colleges in California and Nevada.
Going into the finals, the team is ranked No. 1 in its region and No. 7 nationally.
This year’s team consists of Dallas Osburn, Ben Londo, Elliot French, Ted Burt, Joe Clarot, Jodi Coppini, Kelsey Johnson, Sadie Myers and Kalli Collins.
Osburn will be competing in team roping and saddle bronc. Londo will be competing in bareback and saddle bronc. French will also be in the saddle bronc event. Burt will be entered in the steer wrestling and bull riding events. Clarot will represent Cal Poly in the tie-down roping.
For the women’s team, Coppini will compete in goat tying and breakaway. Johnson and Myers will represent Cal Poly in the breakaway also. Collins will compete in the goat tying event also.
While in Casper, Londo hopes to spend some time with his father. Londo, junior in construction management and native of Oregon, is making his third trip to the college finals.
Unlike Londo, this will mark the last year for some of the team members and their coach. Coppini, Myers and Osburn will be competing in their last college finals because they are graduating. This will also be Mello’s last year as a coach.
“I’ve enjoyed (coaching) so much and it has been a great experience,” Mello said.
His last day will be June 30 and Tony Branquinho will take over for him. Branquinho is from Los Alamos and comes from a family that competes in rodeos at a professional level.
He said that Branquinho is a local and will do a great job with the rodeo team. Mello is leaving the program because he only intended to be the coach for one year, but said he will stay on for the next year as a consultant to make sure that Branquinho’s transition is smooth.
Mello has enjoyed working with everyone in and out of the program and that the experience has been great.