Cowboys Represented at College National Finals RodeoFri, 29 Aug 2014 16:13:10 CDT
Senior agricultural economics major, Thompson Berryhill, Talala, Oklahoma, recently represented Oklahoma State University and placed sixth in the nation in team roping finals at the 2014 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, Wyoming.
Berryhill was the first Cowboy rodeo member to qualify for the CNFR in several years,creating excitement for the entire program.
Cody Hollingsworth, OSU Rodeo Team head coach, said the CNFR is the national championship of rodeo at the college level and is difficult to reach, as in any other sport.
"It takes a lot of work," Hollingsworth said. "Work ethic and a lot of hours in the practice pen are vital for sure."
He said representation at the CNFR is significant in building consistency for OSU's growing rodeo program and watching one of his own students proved to be a thrilling experience.
"It's a goal within the program to get more and more students to qualify and represent OSU on a national stage," Hollingsworth said. "It was very exciting to watch Thompson compete."
For many competitors, rodeo is a multi-generational sport they grew up around. For Berryhill, rodeo did not become a way of life until he was 16. Although he had a horse and loved to play with a rope his entire life, it took a while to get around to competing, but he said he was hooked on the sport after just one rodeo.
"I fell in love with rodeo because it was something that could challenge me every single day to improve," Berryhill said. "Since team roping has so many variables, there is always something to work on, and I love the challenge."
Hollingsworth praised Berryhill as a driven individual with high expectations of himself. Not only does Thompson practice with the team, but also practices at his own house with his own cattle. Hollingsworth said Berryhill is nothing less than dedicated and focused on roping.
Berryhill said although he would not trade his experience of competing at the CNFR for anything in the world, he was not completely satisfied with the outcome.
Next year, Berryhill said his goal is to return with the dream of bringing home a national title to OSU.
He was the first student to qualify for nationals since Hollingsworth took reigns as head coach in 2012. For OSU Rodeo, Berryhill's success serves as a reminder that the future is bright.
Berryhill said it was a humbling opportunity to represent OSU at the largest college rodeo there is, and he took comfort in knowing no matter the outcome, he will always be a Cowboy.
"I cannot wait to hopefully get back there and give it our best go," Berryhill said.
Along with hopes of returning to the CNFR next year, he said he has no intentions of ending his rodeo career anytime soon.
"My dream now is to rope in all the places I used to daydream about, and always be the best I can be," Berryhill said.
Helping build OSU's rodeo program also is important to Berryhill in his final year. He said the support he has received from coaches, teammates and professors hasbeen massive, and it is his hope to give back to the program.
His coach has big plans for the future of OSU Rodeo as well.
Hollingsworth's heart for the program runs deep, as he was once a student on the OSU Rodeo Team. During this time, there was no practice facility, and he said university support was lacking.
He said he returned to OSU because he longed to see the program help students get an education from this university, instead of being an extra cost. Hollingsworth said recent support from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and various sponsors and donors has made this possible.
"My goal for the program is to continue to build the support and the funding, so we can help students like Thompson receive an education," Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth has also been on a mission to bring an official college rodeo to Orange Country. After nearly 30 years, OSU will have the honor of hosting a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) rodeo Oct. 9-11 at the Payne County Fairgrounds.
Click here for more information about the OSU Rodeo team and the upcoming rodeo.
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