Tarleton women took no prisoners on the way to the CNFR.
Russian-born writer Ayn Rand said, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me, it’s who’s going to stop me.” That could be the credo of the Tarleton State University women’s rodeo team as it prepares for the College National Finals Rodeo, June 9-15, in Casper, Wyo.
The women, led by National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region goat tying champion Lariat Larner and four other transfers, dominated the regional standings, winning six of 10 rodeos in 2018-19 and finishing in the top three in all but one.
“The women’s team really came together this year,” said rodeo assistant coach Brittany Stewart. “Everyone has been striving to accomplish the goals we set early on and work hard. They continually help push each other to the top.”
All five Tarleton team members came from other high-profile programs, and three have already been to Casper, including Larner, a Stephenville High School graduate who qualified for the College National Finals last year in both breakaway roping and goat tying before transferring from South Plains College.
“We all came from different schools,” said Larner, a math major. “We were all friends but never teammates. We all knew we were really good, so it’s nice to be on a team together.”
Larner’s consistency during the regular season was one key to the team’s success. The junior goat-tying specialist was tops in the Southwest Region and second in the nation, claiming five event titles this season and one second-place finish. In addition, she won the women’s all-around buckle at the season-ending Tarleton Stampede.
The rest of the regional championship team features Mary Risse, who ties goats and competes in breakaway roping; Rickie Engesser, likewise a dual-event competitor; and barrel racers Maddy Dickens and Samantha Smith.
Risse, from Martin, S.D., had an impressive goat-tying campaign. She finished the season as the reserve champion, claiming a half-dozen top-four finishes in 2018-19, including a title in Vernon in early October.