Good Sports: West Hills College Coalinga rodeo team preparing for college national finals

Seven Falcons have advanced to the week-long competition in Casper, Wyoming.

Alec Nolan Image
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Good Sports: West Hills College Coalinga rodeo team preparing for college national finals
Casper, Wyoming plays host to the College National Finals Rodeo -- a week-long event featuring a Central Valley school.

COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Out in Coalinga, the West Hills College rodeo team is prepping for the college national finals.

"Just love riding bulls, man," says Colby Strickland.

Ranked 5th in the nation and fresh off a regional title, Strickland is one of seven Falcons advancing to next month's week-long competition in Casper, Wyoming.

He is coached by a familiar face - his brother, Justin.

"If you're a bull rider, you got to be a little crazy to do it," Justin said. "I mean, a normal person is not going to be doing it."

Last year, Colby bucked off on all three rides at nationals. He is now determined to just hit the finish line.

"I just want to ride my bull, that's really about it," he said.

Coach Strickland is also in charge of corralling both athletes and livestock.

"Not all the students want to listen all the time," Justin said. "The animals sure as heck don't want to listen all the time."

One rider who's been listening all season -- Makyala Farkas.

"The guys, they have to go out, rope a calf and tie it down," she said. "The girl version is they just have to rope a calf around the neck, it breaks off and that's when your time stops."

Securing a 4th place national qualifier position in the break-away, Farkas is keeping things simple.

"Score, ride my horse, rope the shoulder," she said. "If I think about it too much, I don't do as well."

Thanks to riders like Farkas, the women's team now holds a top 20 national ranking.

"Great coaching, great teammates, everyone pushes each other," she said. "We work hard, we want each other to succeed and i think it's a good environment to succeed in."

It's an environment that has the younger Strickland focused on just one thing ahead of nationals.

"Go there, do my job, ride my bulls," Colby said.

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