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The Chadron State College rodeo program, home to seven national college rodeo champions, will take new shape in 2018, officially beginning this month. Formerly considered a club sport, rodeo is now a part of the CSC athletic department, where, according to Coach Dustin Luper, it will be the only rodeo program in Nebraska under such a structure.

"It's going to be a recruiting advantage," said Luper. "When we were a club, we couldn't be as selective about recruiting. Going forward, it'll be more like a varsity sport. Any of the quality athletes in our sport, just like any other sport, wants to compete where they treat the athletes well, and where there are quality practices. I've always kind of treated it that way, but now from the outside looking in, there'll be more pride being part of the entire athletic program. I think that's a recruiting tool."

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Northwest Oklahoma State University are two schools Luper cited as examples of rodeo programs with athletic department support. The OPSU men won their second consecutive national title at last month's College National Finals Rodeo and Northwest Oklahoma State was third among the men's teams.

Luper sees great things ahead for his program. Although graduating several seniors, two national qualifiers on the men's side, Kalane Anders of Bayard and Rowdy Moon of Sargent, will return.

Moon will attempt to qualify in bareback riding for his fourth consecutive national rodeo after making it twice as a student at North Platte Community College and again this year at CSC.

Anders also has been competing in PRCA rodeos and at last report was fifth in the steer wrestling standings in Mountain States Circuit. He’s also ninth-ranked nationally in the PRCA Resistol rookie standings after two runner-up showings in the event last month.

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Recruiting is already putting the Eagles ahead of last year, heading into 2018-19, Luper believes.

Under the new arrangement, Chadron State expects to have a smaller roster, but the quality will be high. He said he has recruited a cowgirl from Sundance, Wyo., whom he calls “an all-around hand,” and is adding Quincy Segelke from Gillette College, who was a finalist in breakaway roping at the CRNF in June.

In addition, Luper has recruited two rough stock contestants from Sheridan College.

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