The Colorado Mesa University rodeo team will host the fifth annual Regional Intercollegiate Maverick Stampede Rodeo April 7-8 at the Mesa County Fairgrounds at Veterans Memorial Park.
Rachel Huerkamp, a 2016 graduate of Delta High School, is a barrel racer with the CMU rodeo team. She will compete Friday night.
Barrel racing at the college level is much more competitive, Huerkamp says. "It's definitely taught me a lot, doing an individual sport with a team. My team members have really pushed me and helped me develop new skills. I'm now learning to breakaway rope, which I never thought I would do. Being part of the team has expanded my skill set in rodeo."
Huerkamp was a recipient of a Delta Rotary Club scholarship and is now a freshman at CMU, majoring in business and marketing. The daughter of Dave and Peggy Huerkamp, she is sponsored locally by Hellman Motors.
A love of horses is a legacy from her mother. "She's taught me everything I know," Rachel said.
On Friday, she'll be riding Razzle. They've been working together for three years. Rachel transfers horses from Delta to Grand Junction as the need arises.
Eleven National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association-sanctioned teams with approximately 140 individual riders will compete in the Maverick Stampede Rodeo.
CMU will kick off the rodeo on Thursday, April 6, at 11 a.m. with the fifth annual Steer Stroll. About 20 head of cattle will be driven across campus by rodeo team members. The Steer Stroll will start at the south end of campus.
The rodeo starts at 7 p.m. on Friday night and 6 p.m. on Saturday. Events include bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying. Finals on Saturday night pit the top 10 qualified contestants from each event against each other.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, seniors 60 and older, active military and veterans. Children ages five and under get in free. Tickets may be purchased at the gate or online at https://supportingcmu.org/maverickstampede.
In addition to a full college course load, CMU rodeo team members spend several hours each day practicing and caring for their horses and livestock. Several also have full-time jobs. Road trips take them to competitions throughout the Rocky Mountain region, which includes Colorado, Utah and Idaho.
They recently launched a crowdfunding effort to build a new arena for the growing team. Learn more at http://c-fund.us/aa3.