MIAMI — The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Rodeo Team traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, for the Kansas State University rodeo on the weekend on Feb. 16 for their first rodeo of the spring season.

Riders competed against schools in the Central Plains Region and the women’s team had several standout performances, with Sam Vallone claiming the breakaway roping title.

Valone, a freshman from Ballston Spa, New York, secured her win by putting up a combined time of 5.4 seconds. Freshman Alli Masters, from Leon, Iowa, also had a competitive night, finishing second in the women’s all-around, fifth in the average in goat tying and sixth in the long round of breakaway roping.

Combined with a seventh place goat tying finished by freshman Kaitlyn Ricke from Lawton, Iowa, and a fifth place finish in barrel racing by Beggs freshman Katy Pendergrass, the NEO women placed first as a team among two-year colleges.

Leading the men’s team was McKade Wickett, a sophomore from Muldrow, who finished second in calf roping.

He was joined by freshman Mason Couch, a Bronaugh, Missouri, calf roper who finished sixth, and Rush Hodges, a sophomore from Coweta, who finished seventh in calf roping.

NEO rodeo will travel to five more spring rodeos this season: Fort Scott Community College on March 13-15, Garden City Community College on April 3-4, Southwest Oklahoma State University on April 9-11, Fort Hays State University on April 17-19 and Panhandle State University on April 23-25.

“I was very proud of all the team this weekend,” said rodeo head coach Kolby Ungeheuer. “This was a very tough event and we did well overall. Having Sam win the championship in the breakaway roping was a big deal for the women's team and I'm looking forward to the rest of this spring's events. It should be a fun semester of competition for all these students.”