Annual rodeo features top-notch college talent




Regardless of geography, the rodeo community is extremely tight-knit.

"It's like a big dysfunctional family," Mike Greenleaf said laughing.

Greenleaf also said that being involved with rodeo is an addiction for which there is no cure.

"It's not a love. It's a disease. Alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, they all have support groups. We don't have support groups," he said and laughed again.

Greenleaf and his brother, Patrick Greenleaf, own and operate Madison River Rodeo of Greensburg, and have been providing stock to the Garden City Community College's Intercollegiate rodeo for about eight years.

GCCC rodeo coach Jim Boy Hash jokingly described Greenleaf as the "tall, ugly one," who provided 49 bucking horses, 29 bulls, 35 team ropers and 20 bull riding steers for the 46th annual GCCC rodeo, which was held Friday through Sunday at the Horse Palace indoor arena at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

"It's probably the best college rodeo. They have good facilities, good kids — the kids help. Despite their coaching, I think they've pushed through," Greenleaf said jokingly about Hash.

This year's rodeo marked the first year for the rodeo to take place at the Horse Palace since the college recently purchased it from the county.

"Yea, we took official possession Friday," Hash said. "The rodeo starting Friday — it's kind of like handing the keys to the gymnasium to a brand new basketball coach and saying, 'Here you go,' but you don't know where the light switch is or where the brooms are. I knew a lot of it, but there's still a lot of things I gotta learn."

Twenty college rodeo teams competed in the rodeo. Hash said hosting the home rodeo typically keeps him busy with a lot of the details, which limits the time he can spend with the rodeo team.

"The funny thing about hosting your home rodeo, I don't get to help my kids. My assistant, I kind of leave it up to him to kind of help. I'll help them a little bit, but I'm so worried about so many other things that I couldn't tell you how my kids did," Hash said.

Shelby Leonhard, sophomore at GCCC, had good long go results in goat tying going into Sunday, with a time of 6.9 seconds, but a slight mishap caused her to finish last after the short go.

"She had trouble in the short go. She lost her left stirrup when she came in. Her foot came out of her stirrup, and that's why she had trouble," Hash said.

Sophomore Dalton Davis, who finished tied for fourth in the saddle bronc riding in the long go, crept up to a third-place finish in the short go after scoring a 72 on Sunday. Prior to the home rodeo, Davis was in fourth place in the Central Plains region, and his third-place finish added an additional 40 points to his regional standings.

Former GCCC rodeo member Justin Pollmiller, who competed over the weekend as a member of the Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) rodeo team, said he learned a lot from Hash while at GCCC.

"I'm not really from like a big rodeo area, so he really showed me a lot on how to rodeo, especially a lot of things kind of behind the chutes, getting ready and traveling and things like that," Pollmiller said. "And he really knows a lot about riding and really helped me learn a whole bunch there."

After finishing first in the long go, Pollmiller prepared for his short go on Sunday by limbering up.

"Bareback riding, they call that the most physically demanding event in rodeo, just the way it's set up. I mean it really yanks on you and beats on you, so the biggest thing is making sure you're good and warmed up and stretched and all your equipment is set right," he said.

When it was all said and done, Pollmiller placed second in bareback riding.

Despite competing against her former GCCC team, as well, Emily Miller, who also attends SWOSU, received big applause as she finished her short go in barrel racing with a time of 13.61, which resulted in a third-place finish.

In team competition, the GCCC men's team finished 10th with 95 points, and the GCCC women's team finished seventh with 15 points. Prior to the home rodeo, the men's team was in 10th place and the women's team was in 13th place in the region. Hash didn't think this weekend's result would change the standings too much and said that the standings in the region following the GCCC rodeo probably won't be updated until Tuesday.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University's men's team took first place with 575 points, and the Pratt Community College women's team took first place with 320 points.

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