SWOSU's Rodeo Team during COVID-19
By Jacob Brown
For The Southwestern
Many universities around the country have had their fall sports seasons postponed or pushed back to the spring of 2021. This does not exclude the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Rodeo Team.
However, SWOSU Rodeo coach Mike Visnieski said there are some things to consider when looking at the postponement.
The rodeo team at SWOSU competes in the Central Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, rather than the Great American Conference. This is different from most other sports at SWOSU as they don’t generally match up with the same competitors. However, the NIRA postponed most competitions until the spring of 2021, as did most other fall athletics across the country.
However, this does not stop a lot of athletes from competing. “The unique thing about rodeo is our athletes can go compete at amateur or pro events,” Visnieski said. This varies from NCAA rules, as athletes are not typically allowed to participate outside of NCAA sanctioned events and are not allowed to participate in pro events. This gives the athletes quite a bit of preparation for the upcoming spring in hopes of competing for SWOSU.
“I was excited to see this group this fall, but we’ll wait,” Visnieski said.
The rodeo team has a very winning-based culture here at SWOSU, with both men’s and women’s finishing below fifth in the region only twice since the 2011-2012 season. Preparation for this year has been somewhat of a hassle, though, as practice must be split-up diversely throughout the day in accordance with health guidelines.
“The main goal is to keep everyone ready and interested, so we are ready,” Visnieski said.
Per CDC regulations, the 48th annual SWOSU Rodeo was cancelled last spring, ending a 47-year stretch of hosting a home rodeo event. The event hosts teams such as Oklahoma State, Northwestern Oklahoma State, Panhandle State, and many more, bringing competition and fans to the Weatherford area in the process. Last year's cancellation is providing even more motivation to get the home-based event back this spring.
In terms of roster, the team only lost two athletes from last year, while also bringing in a few newcomers this new school year.
Visnieski pointed out a few of the returners to watch for include Winter Williams (the breakaway winner on the women’s side of the region last year), along with many other top-returners such as Sadie Wolaver and Taylor Lagasse.
“We are loaded up pretty good,” said Visnieski about the roster.
The SWOSU Rodeo team is practicing and ready to get rolling, which is something to look forward to down the road when competition begins.
“We are ready to roll and hungry. They want to win,” Visnieski said.