Reno Rodeo raises enthusiasm for collegiate team
Catching the evening sun in the sequins of her pink blouse, Meghan Madrigan rode into the Reno Rodeo arena, waving to applauding fans.
Named this year’s Miss Nevada Rodeo, the 19-year-old Fallon woman made her first appearance in the wildest and richest rodeo in the West, but it won’t be her last.
“I love barrel racing,” she said. “I want to make more of an impact on rodeo, not just as the queen.”
The next time she rides in Reno, she wants to be a competitor. And she’s well on her way.
Madrigan served in the booster organization that helped create Western Nevada Community College’s first rodeo team. It’s the only rodeo team in Northern Nevada and the second in the state, along with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“The WNCC team was such an answer to my prayers,” she said. “It allowed me to stay home, use my Millennium Scholarship and still rodeo.”
Coach Tommy Lee said the college’s team on the Fallon campus is still small — nine members — but should grow over time.
“This is the only junior college that has a rodeo team in Nevada,” he said. “Some kids don’t want to go to a four-year school. It gives them another option.”
Matt Lawless of Stagecoach has been steer wrestling for about 18 years. He competed in this year’s Reno Rodeo and is pleased with the organization of the rodeo team.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “It will help the younger kids break into the pro ranks. That’s getting pretty tough to do. The earlier you start, they better off you are.”
And the location of the team will help members improve, said Elko County cowboy Paul Jones.
Jones won the Reno Rodeo bareback competition last year and is a contender for the title this year.
“I think it would be a good deal,” he said. “There’s a lot of good people here who’ve been around rodeo a long time and could help some young people out.”
The first collegiate rodeo is scheduled for Oct. 25 and 26 with about 150 contestants expected.
Madrigan is anxious for the date to arrive.
“I hope it turns out well,” she said. “It’ a test run but we have so much support in the community, I think it will be a success.”
Last season, Madrigan, who competes in barrel racing, goat tying and break away roping, was the only girl on the five-member team.
“I got picked on a lot,” she said, laughing. “Really, the guys took care of me. They were always there to set up my barrels for me or hold my goat.”
Madrigan plans to run for Miss Rodeo America in December. But her goals extend much further.
“I want to do something that will make a big impact like be a saddle bronc rider or an announcer,” she said. “That would be my absolute dream — to be the first female world champion rodeo announcer.”r.”