TORRINGTON – Eastern Wyoming College rodeo team member Karissa Rayhill continually works to better herself in the rodeo arena.
Rayhill took a big step forward in doing just that this year, winning three Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) championships when the season concluded at the end of April with the University of Wyoming rodeo.
She walked away from Laramie rodeo with three buckels, including the CRMR women’s all-around championship, goat tying championship and barrel racing championship. She qualified for next month’s College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper.
“I always have a goal to do my best. I wanted to be better this year especially after having my daughter. It was my goal to do some things differently. I put in the extra effort to get there. I wanted to make the CNFR. That was a huge goal,” Rayhill said. “My main goal is to beat myself and better myself and make better runs than I have before. I feel like I’m closing in on that by continuing to better myself. It’s always a goal to win, but more so, better yourself.”
This will be Rayhill’s third trip to the CNFR but fourth time qualifying for college rodeo’s top event.
Not only is Rayhill one of the best in the CRMR but also the nation.
She finished atop the women’s all-around standings at the national level by nearly 200 points, including fifth in barrel racing and fourth in goat tying.
Rayhill had to work at coming back after starting out slow in goat tying this season.
“I didn’t have the upper hand after the first half of the year in goat tying, but I really worked at it,” she said.
Rayhill ended up scoring three wins in the final five rodeos, including the EWC Lancer Rodeo at the end of March.
In barrel racing, her consistency paid off.
“In barrels, I remained consistent all year, and my horse worked fantastic for me,” Rayhill said. “We were in it all the time.”
She put it all together in Laramie, securing the second regional championship.
“It was a little bit of a battle with the other girl, but we pulled through,” Rayhill said. “It was good all around. I had some luck in my other two events in breakaway and team roping.”
In Laramie, Rayhill capped off the regular season winning the log round in 14.51 seconds and was second in the short-round in 14.52 seconds. She was also fifth in team roping average with Chadron State College’s Seth Shorb, an EWC alum.
Rayhill says it takes a lot of time and effort to pull off what she did this season, but also praised the support she has received to make it happen.
“It takes a lot of time and a lot of people. It’s just a great school and a group of kids and coaches. Everyone works together to make it work,” she said. “You just have to make time for stuff whether it’s getting up early to go do one thing and finishing it later that evening. You really have to be dedicated at it to excel.
“I just want to give a big thank you to my family, my team and to God,” she added.
Now her attention turns to Casper and the CNFR which is scheduled for June 12-18 at the Ford Wyoming Center.
“You have to stay dedicated and keep practicing,” Rayhill said. “You have to keep working toward your main focus.”