Red Deer College has a reputation for athletic excellence in many sports. But a quick survey around campus probably wouldn’t yield many students aware of the college’s rodeo stars. Yet they took their turn in the spotlight this past weekend, at the Canadian National College Finals Rodeo in Edmonton.
Talented cowgirl Kendra Richardson led the charge, qualifying for the season end showdown in three events, despite spending much of the year recovering from surgery. Richardson went on to claim top honors at the Finals in both the breakaway roping, and in the team roping, with partner Scott Hubschmid, from the Olds College.
Richardson first took her diploma in disability and community service at RDC, and is now back working on her degree in community rehabilitation. She only returned to riding in January, after September surgery on her tailbone to remove scar tissue from an injury suffered in her other rodeo event, goat tying.
But anyone who knows Kendra isn’t at all that surprised to see her championship rise above challenges, because she’s been doing that all her life.
“She had to overcome her own disability with the sport of rodeo,” said her mom, Joyce Carothers. “She’s deaf in one ear and had no balance. She fell lots and hit the dust running in the goat tying until she mastered the events.”
Richardson, who grew up in the Ponoka region, went on through high school rodeo to master six different events, and has been active in helping with the special needs rodeo held during the Ponoka Stampede, even passing up a chance to go to the National High School Finals Rodeo in the U.S. to stay home for that.
Kendra had competed before at the College Finals in 2008, when she and her then-fiance, Jordan Richardson, had been season leaders in the team roping, and she won the goat tying title that year. This time, she had plenty of company at the Finals. Even though her husband is done college, he was on hand to cheer her on and provide advice. Her heeler in the team roping was Jordan’s friend, and a member of their wedding party from just a little over a year ago. Her sister-in-law Elizabeth Richardson, was a fellow competitor in the goat tying and breakaway roping. Then there was brother-in-law Carson in the team roping and tie-down roping, and yet another Richardson, cousin Matt, in the steer wrestling.
But Kendra stole the show for the family.
“In the team roping, we were tied going into the last round of the Finals,” she confirmed. “We drew really good steers all weekend. I was a little late on our last run, but I wanted to make sure I got it roped. We were one of only two teams that got three tied.”
Richardson and Bowden’s Hubschmid had a total time of 34.5 seconds to win the team roping average and take the title with 360 points.
“In the breakaway roping, because I qualified in last place, I was out first at the Finals. I was sitting second going into the last day, but I knew I had a good calf, because Elizabeth had him before.”
She placed third the opening night with a 4.9 second run, but followed that up with a 5.4 in the second performance, and then turned in the fastest performance of the Finals Saturday night with a 3.5, to win the championship with 330 points.
Richardson wound up fourth overall in the goat tying, while fellow RDC student Leah Olstad won the championship.
“The goats kicked like crazy,” said Richardson. “I didn’t tie my first one tight enough. But Leah tied great all weekend. It was her first Finals, and she smoked ‘em.”
Olstad is from Carstairs, and is in the education program at RDC.
Richardson was excited to be able to bring home two buckles from the Edmonton event, but credits being able to keep her emotions in check while competing for helping her win.
“I was pretty calm about it. Before, I used to choke. But I guess it’s something you learn to deal with.
“It was an amazing finals, and there were tons of people there Saturday night. It felt really neat to win.”
The other RDC student to pick up a college national championship was Matt Stroschein, who won the bull riding honors. The Trochu cowboy has been taking the carpentry program at RDC. He covered his first bull for an 80.5, which was tops among the college contenders in the event, since none of the rest were able to cover more than one bull either.
Strhoschein says he’s struggled with some injury problems the last several years, but hopes to turn things around this season.
“I’ve got my semi-pro card, and plan to go to mainly pro rodeos and WPB events. I’m has healthy as I’ve ever been. I’d really like to do good. I’d like this to be my breakthrough year.”
Also at the Canadian National College Finals, NAIT student Justin Aspeden, of Alix won the bareback riding. Clay Creasy of Brownfield, a four-time college saddle bronc champion, wound up winning the tie-down roping over central Albertan’s Carson Richardson and Garnett Marshall. SAIT’s Mary Vernon, from Millarville, took the saddle bronc riding honors this year. Olds College student Glen Allen Nash, from Drayton Valley, won his second straight steer wrestling title. The barrel racing honors went to Bailee Stanton from Kananaskis, representing the University of Alberta, while fellow student Rayelle Foxwell of Edgerton took the pole bending event.
Dianne Finstad is the agriculture and rodeo director for CKGY/Z99