Local competitors nab national titles

Three local college students have had very successful Canadian College Rodeo finals.

Three local college students have had very successful Canadian College Rodeo finals.

Earlier this spring they all wound up successful 2011/2012 collegiate rodeo seasons as Canadian Champions.

Cody Braaten from 150 Mile House won the Tie Down Roping, the only competitor to rope all three calves at the finals (Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association) which was held at the Edmonton Expo Centre on March 29, 30 and 31; it was a well-attended three-day rodeo finals with more than 7,000 rodeo fans turning out to watch the top 10 intercollegiate rodeo contestants in each event make a run for the title.

Braaten, who attends Lakeland College, qualified for the finals in two events, also making the top 10 in the team roping (with partner, Tanner Ruttan) where he placed fifth over all.

His title in the tie down was won with patience and consistency — never the fastest in a performance. Braaten, however, just made three solid runs, clocking good times in each that led to the overall win. In go-round one, Thursday, March 29, he tied his first calf in 12.5 — to split second/third in the go-round, then on Friday night (March 30) he was just a tad slower, tying his calf in a time of 14.2, which earned him fourth position on the day.

On Championship Sunday (so known by the rodeo contestants who realize that the title is theirs, to win or lose) Braaten made his best run of the weekend, just what he needed to secure the overall Tie Down Championship title, posting an 11.3 second-time, which held for good for third place. He finished with 335 points and the Canadian Collegiate Tie Down title.

While Braaten was racking up points in the tie down roping, another pair of local students, both women (sisters) — were making noise in the female side of the competition, not just a little noise, more like a thunderous racket.

Canadian College Rodeo is probably wondering when they are going to see the last of the Schuk sisters, siblings from Tatla Lake who have risen to the top continually for a number of seasons on the Canadian College Rodeo circuit.

The reign began with the elder sisters, Brittany and Patricia, back in the early 2000s and has continued to this day. Folks will recall that adversity struck the family in 2005 when Patricia (already a Lakeland-NAIT rodeo team member) and Brittany (a rookie) were involved in a serious accident when driving home to B.C. on a college-break. After a year off to recover/recuperate from life-altering, permanent injuries, incredibly both sisters returned to college and rodeo competition.

“My sisters had to go through a lot of physiotherapy,” Holly Schuk says in a March 2012 story in the Vancouver Sun. “(Patricia) had to re-learn horseback riding because her balance changed (she lost a leg in the accident) … and (Brittany) had to overcome a lot of broken bones and a lot of muscle and nerve damage.”

Holly, at 21, is the youngest of the two college competitor-sisters and this season was her first as a five-event competitor (she qualified in four for the finals: pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping (with partner, Brittany) while sister Brittany contested in two events, the breakaway and the team roping.

By the time it was all said and done, the rest of the field was probably tired of hearing the announcer talking about the young women from Tatla Lake, B.C. — both of whom compete for Lakeland College (Vermillion, AB).

Brittany brought home the Canadian Intercollegiate Breakaway Roping title. She roped her breakaway calves in great times; 3.5 seconds for third spot in the opening round, 3.4 seconds for second in the second go-round and 2.7 seconds to take  first in the third/final go-round to secure the overall championship. In the team roping, Brittany and Holly took “no-times” in rounds one and two, before posting an 11.3 time for third place in round three.

In the meantime, younger sister Holly was quietly racking up points she competed in her four events. In the pole bending she placed eighth, seventh and ninth in the rounds, respectively, but had much better results in the goat tying, finishing 10th in round one  (13.3), second in go-two (9.6) and fourth in the final go-round (10.0).

Ka-ching, ka-ching — those all around cowgirl points are adding up.

Some unfortunate luck dogged her in the roping events, as Holly took two no-times to begin the Breakaway Roping but rebounded in round three with a solid run of 3.6 seconds to win fourth, more points to add along with the third-place team roping placing in round three (no-times in the previous two go-rounds). When all was said and done, Holly’s incredible efforts had paid off in the form of one of the most coveted rodeo titles, that of Canadian Intercollegiate — All Around Cowgirl for 2011-2012. As well as being successful in the rodeo arena, Holly excels in the classroom. She is a graduate (environmental science and reclamation) and is currently in the Bachelor of Applied Environmental Management program. When she completes her post-secondary schooling, she has plans for a career in the oil/gas industry — reclaiming land to return it to its original state after exploration/development. She has been awarded scholarships for rodeo accomplishments and scholastic achievements.

“It’s the first year that I’ve competed in all five events (during regular season), last year I only competed in four. I think I did quite well,” Holly told the Sun.

That’s a massive (and modest) understatement!

Congratulations, Holly (all-around cowgirl), Brittany (breakaway roping champion) and Cody (tie down roping) — Canadian College Champions —  your community and your families are very proud of your accomplishments and the positive recognition that those achievements bring both you personally and the region in general.