Put in a predicament regarding which sport he should compete this weekend, a different decision has at least cleared up Holland Roukema’s more distant yet fast-approaching future.
With the 2020-21 Colorado State High School Rodeo Association season winding down as the Colorado High School Activities Association baseball season ramps up, the Ignacio senior will miss the Bobcats’ doubleheader versus Meeker as he’ll instead show in Grand Junction skills sought and secured by a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association institution.
Having truly burst onto the NIRA scene a decade ago, setting national records for points earned at a single rodeo as well as single-season points, consistent Grand Canyon Region contender Mesalands Community College – with a men’s team ranked No. 20 nationally as of May 5 – recently received Roukema’s commitment at an on-campus signing in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
“I’m glad to go to college, just go somewhere new and get out of Colorado for a little bit,” Roukema said Wednesday evening following baseball practice at IHS Field. “It’s kind of an empty town, but I like it. And it’s a small school; it’ll just be easier for me to go compete for rodeo.”
Grinning while saying so, Roukema knows full well that in rodeo, nothing really comes easy.
Specializing in team roping and usually heading for heeler and brother Teagan, he admitted things haven’t gone exactly to plan in CSHSRA action, though the duo – riding locally for Basin High School Rodeo – has posted two top-five results, including a runner-up 7.770-second effort back in September at the Latigo Trails Equestrian Center in Elbert, to go with four top 10s going into the May 8-9 Tri-County Rodeo at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.
“We’re kind of struggling,” said Roukema, who faces a constant, more serious struggle against dyslexia. “But we have a couple more rodeos, and we can get back up there, for sure.”
Likely expected to rope in the same discipline for head coach Matthew Hughes at MCC, Roukema and his sibling, sons of mother Katie and stepfather Trent Taylor, have also been tie-down regulars this season, though the elder likely won’t be participating in Grand Junction nor next weekend at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley after having sold his calf-roping horse.
“I think I’m going to try again (at Mesalands); I’m going to borrow some calf horses and give it a shot,” said Roukema, who does have four top 15s in the event, including a fifth-place 19.730 right out of the proverbial gate in Craig at the Moffat County Fairgrounds – also the site for the upcoming May 27-31 CSHSRA Finals. “I was sitting pretty good in the standings.
“More comfortable in team, for sure. Just the rush, all the money you can win, it’s just a fun event. And team roping’s just been a little easier for me; it was kind of natural more than anything else.”
The top four individuals in every event (top four pairs in team roping) at season’s end will qualify for the July 18-24 National High School Finals Rodeo at the Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was to be a first-time host venue for the supreme spectacle last summer before COVID-19 cancellation.
Situated approximately 170 miles east of Albuquerque and 100 west of Amarillo, Texas, Mesalands placed third in the GCR men’s team standings with 4,027 accumulated points. Central Arizona College racked up a winning 4,769.5 points –at present, No. 13 nationally – while Cochise College took second with 4,215.5.
Rounding out the standings were New Mexico State University (3,623) and Navajo Technical College (601.5).
In the aforementioned national standings, Missouri Valley College led with 8,605 points, well ahead of Treasure Valley CC (7,520.5) and College of Southern Idaho (6,999.5). All NIRA members continue vying for berths in the June 13-19 College National Finals Rodeo at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper, Wyoming.
“I guess I’ll try to make it to the College Finals first, next year, before I try to make it big,” said Roukema, interested academically in and on a rodeo scholarship for silversmithing while pursuing a dream of competing professionally and someday reaching the PRCA Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. “They’re pretty good at Mesalands; I know that for sure.”