University News

SUU Freshman Takes First at the Regions Breakaway Championship

Published: May 20, 2019 | Author: Lyndsey Nelson | Category: Academics

2019-05-erika-thigpen-rodeo.jpgErika Thigpen led the Southern Utah University Women’s Rodeo Team to success at the Regions Breakaway Championship and claimed first prize in the breakaway roping competition.

Breakaway roping is one of the oldest forms of roping in the Western world. It consists of catching the head of a calf with a rope tied to the saddle of the roper’s horse. The breakaway roping champion is the competitor who catches the calf in the least amount of time. This year, the SUU Women’s Team placed second in both the Weber State Rodeo and the CNCC Rodeo in Rangeley, Colorado.

Thigpen, a freshman from Logandale, Nevada, won the Regions Breakaway Championship in early April and will be going to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming this June.

“Growing up, my mom owned horses, which got me into riding. I started out in lower-level riding and competitions,” said Thigpen. “I just started out doing barrel racing and pole bending, and my childhood best friend got into mounted shooting, which I followed for a while.”

After a break from riding horses, Thigpen began roping again in her freshman year of high school and has competed in various high school and junior rodeos throughout the state of Nevada.

“All the failures and successes I endured over those long four years shaped me into the rodeo athlete I am today,” said Thigpen.

For the region competition, Thigpen spent countless nights and days in the arena, bettering herself as a roper and pushing herself to constantly improve. Of those who had helped her along the way, Thigpen credits her coach and parents

“Kari Brought always pushed me to be better, and without my parents, I would not have been able to rope consistent enough this season to win the title.”

Going forward, Thigpen has already begun practicing for the College National Finals coming later this summer. Her preparation includes making sure her rodeo horse is in the best possible shape and practicing roping daily with a calf dummy. She also plans to visit an arena multiple times in the week leading up to the competition to practice her roping on live calves.

As she looks forward to the national competition, Thigpen is filled with gratitude for her team here at Southern Utah.

“SUU gives me a support group to fall back on and help me in the practice pen, as well as in the rodeo arena,” Thigpen said. “Being able to have a team to fall back on and help me when I need it is the one thing that I couldn’t experience anywhere else.”

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