Veteran, freshman riders gear up for LCCC rodeo

By Shawn Havel

Expectations are heightened for the Laramie County Community College rodeo team this year. A group of promising freshmen eager to impress as they make the transition from high school to the collegiate stage will complement an elite core of returning athletes. Together the team will look to move forward from their seventh-place finish in the Central Rocky Mountain Region last year.

Loncey Johnson will return to LCCC to ride bulls this year. Johnson was briefly ranked No. 1 in the nation last year before ultimately finishing the season in second. Despite the accomplishment, Johnson will look to outdo himself and all his challengers again this season by continuing his habit of winning.

But Johnson will have some competition—in particular from one of his teammates. Justin Thomas has returned from Sam Houston State University to ride for the Golden Eagles once more. At SHSU Thomas sustained a season-ending injury. However, in his prior seasons with LCCC he finished in the national Top 10 twice, peaking at third his freshman season.

Coming off an outstanding debut season, team ropers Canler Sterkel and Dillon Evenson will combine their efforts once more to build upon their third-place finish in the region.

On the women’s half of the team there is no lack of talent either. Returning stars Katelyn Ellis, Raelynn Keller and Jesse Pichler will assume leadership roles and are expected to have a great season.

“All the girls had success last year and should be ready to compete right off the bat,” rodeo coach David Browder said.

Browder expected the team will finish in the top three regionally this year and potentially challenge for No. 1. The LCCC rodeo team begins their season in Nebraska at the Chadron State College Rodeo from Sept 9-11.