Hometown fans of the Bulldoggers brave rain at rodeo

Fresno State senior Rial Engelhart chases down a calf during the tie down event in the Fresno State College Rodeo at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds on March 9, 2019. Engelhart placed first in the competition with a combined time of 20.9 seconds in two runs. (Photo by Seth Casey/Clovis Roundup)

The Fresno State Bulldoggers club rodeo team put on a show for the home crowd as it hosted the Fresno State College Rodeo at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds on March 8 and 9.

In their only home event of the season, the Bulldoggers earned wins in several categories, including bull riding, bareback riding, tie down roping, team roping header, team roping heeler and breakaway roping.

This was the Bulldoggers’ third competition of the season, and first competition since October 2018. Fresno State senior Rial Engelhart, who took first place in tie down roping, said the team stays sharp during the off months of the season by practicing and looking forward to the end goal of winning.

“It was good to get back into it and, you know, get back into some competition,” Engelhart said. “It makes you stay sharp and keep practice up. In between, we had to practice and it’s good to finally get to compete.”

Fifteen of the West Coast Region’s top collegiate rodeo teams were represented at the two-day event, with riders competing in categories including saddle bronc and bareback riding, bull riding, barrel racing, breakaway roping, team roping, tie down roping and steer wrestling.

Following the opening round on Friday night and the slack round on Saturday morning, the top 10 qualifiers from each round competed Saturday night in the championship round.

Despite the wind and the rain that began during the championship round, Uhuru Adem, the team’s coach, said the team was focused and unfazed.

“They’re kind of in the zone,” Adem said. “I can see it in a lot of them. I don’t think it affects them that much.”

The fans didn’t seem to mind the weather either, with many in attendance staying seated until the final round of the second evening even as the rain started to fall. Adem said the home crowd’s presence gave the team an extra boost in their performance.

“I think there’s a big boost for them,” Adem said. “They get to have a little pride, you know. This is the ‘Dog house. They hold that pride.”

Adem said the team works hard all season, sometimes having practice as early as 4 a.m. But during the seven-month season, Adem said one thing keeps the team motivated: “winning.”

Fresno State’s men’s team is now ranked No. 7 in the nation and first in the region.

The team also has several members in the top three spots of the regional standings, including Engelhart ranked No. 2 in both men’s all around and tie down roping, Mitchell Parham ranked first in bareback riding, Christopher Rosedale ranked No. 3 in bull riding and freshman Reed Neely ranked third in saddle bronc riding.

The women’s team also has members in the regional standings, with Romey Stuhaan ranked fourth in breakaway roping, Cassi Wilkerson ranked tenth in team roping header and Hunter Morgan ranked No. 10 in barrel racing.

The next competition for the Bulldoggers will be hosted by West Hills College on March 22 and 23 in Coalinga.