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Trojans #039;cowboy up#039; for Classic

Rodeo fans from the Wiregrass can get a sneak peek of the new Troy State University Rodeo Team on Aug. 23, at the eighth annual South Alabama Pro Rodeo Classic sponsored by the Dale County Young Farmers in Ozark.

Gates at the park open at 6 p.m. and the rodeo performance begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Stegall Park in downtown Ozark. TSU Rodeo Coach Rick Jones said rodeo fans will get their money's worth at the Classic because many of the TSU students have been competing professionally for several years.

"We're really pleased with the quality of student-athletes we've been able to attract to TSU," Jones said. "Even though this is Troy State's first year to have a rodeo team, I expect us to be competitive on a national level. We have 35 students who've already committed to the team, and I expect that number to increase, as the university’s rodeo program becomes well known."

Jones said about 20 TSU students will compete in the Classic in events such as bull riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, calf roping, breakaway roping and barrel racing.

TSU Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. has been very supportive of the new program. He said he’s excited about the enthusiasm that the rodeo program has created in students and in Troy and surrounding communities.

"Collegiate opportunities for high school rodeo athletes in the Southeast are limited," Hawkins said. "The TSU program can meet a significant need while providing a quality education coupled with personal and professional growth. The intercollegiate rodeo program will encourage these athletes to continue their education beyond high school and to maintain an academic performance that allows them to compete in college rodeo."

Jones said he along with students and staff members from TSU would be on hand at the Classic to answer questions about the rodeo program.

"We're still looking for students who want to be a part of our team and for sponsors to help support the program," Jones said. "Rodeo is different from many college sports because there is no limit to the number of athletes who can participate and students can compete professionally while still in college."

For more information about the TSU Rodeo Team, visit the TSU web site at: http://www.troyst.edu/athletics/rodeo.

Rodeo tickets are available at The Barn in Ozark, ITR office in Ft. Rucker, the Ozark Chamber of Commerce office and at the Co-Ops in Ozark and Ariton. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children. Children 6 and under are admitted free. For more information about the Classic, contact Dale County Young Farmers Chairman Bill Walden at (334) 774-1332.