*From Troy Media Relations*
TROY, Ala. – After a summer off from the Ozark Region in the realm of collegiate rodeo, the Troy men's and women's rodeo teams will hit the road this Thursday to open the 2012-2013 season at Missouri Valley College.
Last season's Viking Stampede was a successful one for the women, as they claimed top honors at the event led by All-Around Champion Whitney Hazouri. Hazouri claimed the highest award by winning the goat tying event and placing second in breakaway roping.
The Stampede marked the highest finish for the women's team and the second-highest of fourth finish by the men over a span of the fall and winter months.
The fall season schedule, put out by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), features five events for the Trojan Spurs, including the only home event of the year, the Trojan Stampede.
Action will begin Thursday when the teams make the 13 hour trek to Marshall, Mo. to face-off with one of the toughest opponents in college rodeo, Missouri Valley.
Murray State University will host the second round of action in the Ozark Region October 4-6.
Just one week later, Troy will make a short trip to in-state opponent West Alabama to compete at the Don C. Hines Rodeo Complex in the UWA Showdown.
To close out the month of October, Southern Arkansas will welcome members of the Ozark Region in their home-event, October 25-27.
November 15-17, also the weekend of Troy football's homecoming, will be the weekend head coach Josh Simmons and his group welcome members of the region and others to compete in the annual Trojan Stampede at the Pike County Cattleman's Association Complex.
A total of 31 student-athletes will take to the arena this year to compete for the Trojan Spurs, including 16 newcomers. Of the 20 roster spots on the women's side, 12 of those are also newcomers to the team.
Seniors Cassidy Aldridge and Shelby DeHass return to the team with veteran experience. Lanie Culligan, Kristen Darnell and Kassandra Smith return as the juniors, while Liza Ingram, Kendyll Rushing and Casey Watson return as the sophomores.
Katherine Beck, a sophomore from Andalusia, Ala., comes to Troy from Straughn High School and will compete in barrel racing.
Haley Brown, a freshman from Hooper Academy in Montgomery, Ala., will compete in breakaway roping and goat tying for the Trojans. Brown comes to Troy with championship experience as she was named the 2010 and 2011 Little Boot All-Around and Little Buckaroo Champion, as well as the 2010 Megan McCain 3D Youth Barrel Racing Champion.
Erin Christopher, a freshman from Marianna, Fla., will manage three events in her first year of collegiate rodeo as she will compete in team roping, goat tying and barrel racing.
Another duo of freshman who will compete in strictly barrel racing are Stephanie Housch of Sylacauga, Ala., and Alexa Howell of Grand Island, Fla.
Kelsey Kennemer of Anderson, Ala., comes to Troy after a highly successful high school rodeo career. She was named two-time All-Around champion for the state of Tennessee, and also claimed the same honor in the state of Alabama once. Kennemer will compete in breakaway roping, goat tying, barrel racing and team roping for the Trojans.
Crystal Moffat of Davie, Fla., joins the Trojans after competing in Georgia High School rodeo for four years and will compete in breakaway roping and barrel racing.
Anna Niewoehner of Dixie, Ga., will also pull triple duty for the Trojan Spurs and compete in breakaway roping, goat tying and barrel racing.
Kesia Smith, from Trian, Ga., will join Kennemer to compete in four events. Smith was named the GHSRA Goat Tying Champion in 2010 and 2011, and was named the GHSRA reserve All-Around Girls Champion in 2011 and 2012. Her success in 2010 also brought her rookie of the year honors for the GHSRA.
Morgan Sellars comes to Troy from Fruitland Park, Fla. and will compete in barrel racing and breakaway roping.
Sommer Walker and Shelby Wallin round out the group of newcomers to join the women's team and will both compete in barrel racing, with Wallin also competing in goat tying.
The men's roster features 11 rodeo athletes, with just four newcomers.
Seniors Zach Mabry, Ty Pigott and Lane Taylor return to lead the men to go along with a duo of juniors and sophomores. Austin Sellars and Nick Wilson return as the juniors, and Buddy Glass and Nelson Wyatt return as the team's only sophomore.
William Culligan, brother of Lanie who is also on the Troy rodeo team, comes to Troy from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and will compete in team roping and calf roping.
Dustin Dougherty, a native of Shorter, Ala., will compete in calf roping, team roping and steer wrestling.
Also set to compete in calf and team roping are freshmen Troy Hatcher and Albert McBride. Hatcher comes to Troy from Leary, Ga., and will add to the already stacked stable of experience in the calf and team roping events. McBride, a native of Poplarville, Miss., will also compete in the steer wrestling event.
Action at the Viking Stampede will begin Thursday night with the first round and will conclude on Saturday night with the short-go round.