SUU Cowgirls Prove their Mettle at CNFR

Published: June 27, 2011 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Spectators at the 2011 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming got a fair sampling of Thunderbird talent last week, when Southern Utah University students Milli Hughes and Kendra Hoffman set new CNFR and arena records, leading the SUU Rodeo Team to a 10th place overall finish in the national rodeo competition.

Hughes broke the CNFR and arena record of Goat Tying with a blazing time of 5.7 seconds and Hoffman broke the CNFR record for the Barrel Run with a time of 14.2 seconds. Hoffman also secured the Reserve Champion Women’s All-Around title.

Besides Hughes and Hoffman, the winning SUU team included Carli Jo Batty, a junior education major from Brigham City, UT, and senior biology/zoology major Jessica Hardy, from Price, UT.

Hughes, a junior elementary education major, hails from Cedar City, UT. And Hoffman is a senior finance major at SUU, from St. George, UT.

SUU Coach Shane Flanigan said he is “very pleased with the results.” He said this is the first time a student has received the reserve all-around title and is elated that Hoffman accomplished this.

Flanigan also remarked that this season’s team members have been phenomenal and that he very much enjoyed coaching them.

Of course, none of this season’s success came easily for these four outstanding student-athletes. During the school year, each one maintains an incredibly busy schedule, practicing 20 to 30 hours a week on top of schoolwork and other extracurricular activities.

During the spring semester Batty juggled working full time, taking 18 credit hours and, amidst all of that, finding time to practice. She said sometimes she didn’t start practice until 8 p.m. and didn’t get done until midnight.

Hardy quickly found that sometimes rodeo and school had to overlap: “I often took anatomy flashcards to the warm-up pen to study prior to the start of a rodeo.”

On top of their CNFR victories, the team also placed second in the Rocky Mountain Region NIRA meet in Orem, UT, late in the spring semester. All four girls won top honors in their individual events, and Hoffman earned the All-Around Cowgirl award.

Coach Flanigan credits the team’s success to hard work and talent, but his team members all add that their coach has been very influential upon their success. Fittingly, Flanigan was also formally recognized for his coaching skills when he received the region’s Coach of the Year award.

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