The Chadron State College rodeo program, home to seven national college rodeo individual champions, will take new shape in 2018, officially beginning this week. Formerly housed under the college’s club sports offerings, rodeo now migrates to the oversight of the CSC athletic department, where, according to Head Rodeo Coach Dustin Luper, it will be the only rodeo program in the state of Nebraska under such a structure.
“It’s going to be a recruiting advantage,” said Luper. “When we were a club, we couldn’t be as selective about recruiting. Going forward, it’ll be more like a varsity sport. Any of the quality athletes in our sport, just like any other sport, wants to compete where they treat the athletes well, and where there are quality practices. I’ve always kind of treated it that way in my approach, but now from the outside looking in, there’s more pride instilled into being part of this program. I think that’s a recruiting tool.”
Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Northwest Oklahoma State University were two schools Luper cited as examples of rodeo programs with athletic department support. The OPSU men won their second consecutive national title at last month’s Collegiate National Finals Rodeo. Northwest Oklahoma State was third among the men’s teams.
Luper sees great things ahead for his program, after graduating many seniors but returning two national qualifiers on the men’s side, Kalane Anders of Bayard, Nebraska, and Rowdy Moon of Sargent. Moon will attempt to qualify for his fourth consecutive national collegiate rodeo this coming year, after twice making it in the field while a student at North Platte Community College. Anders, a fixture on the professional PRCA Mountain States Circuit, is currently the fifth-ranked steer wrestler in the region and the ninth-ranked nationally in the PRCA Resistol Rookie Standings after two runner-up showings in the event last month.
Recruiting is already setting the Eagles ahead of last year, heading into 2018-19.
“Our roster last year was 43,” said Luper, “and this year it’ll be about 30. I recruited just a handful of really good kids. Our men’s and women’s teams should be really strong. I got a women’s athlete from Sundance, Wyoming, that’s an all-around hand. I have another lady coming in from Gillette that made the short round at the college final. Then there are a couple guys from Sheridan College who ride roughstock and do very well. We should be pretty balanced.”