June 21, 2013
Sophomore wins two back to back national All Around Cowgirl championships
Hayden Segelke, a college student at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, CO, from 2011-2013 won back to back National All Around Champion Cowgirl titles two years in a row at the College National Finals Rodeo. Photo by BQ Gauck, used with permission.
By Barbara Baker
Hayden Segelke’s name will forever be in the history books at Northeastern Junior College and the records of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). This young lady from Synder, Colorado, who has rode proud for Northeastern’s Rodeo Team for the last two years, captured her second College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) All Around Cowgirl title. Yeah, you read it right, back to back championships. The cowgirl who was--and still is-- at the top of the nation, did it wearing the black and gold Northeastern Junior College (NJC) vest. Not only did she win the All Around Cowgirl crown at the big show, but she also led Northeastern’s women’s team to an overall reserve national champion title.
This isn’t the first time that Hayden has won a national title. Earlier in her young career, she won national titles at the junior high and high school levels, winning the 2007 barrel racing championship at the Wrangler Junior High Finals Rodeo and back-to-back goat tying titles in 2010-11 at the National High School Finals Rodeo. Prior to the CNFR, this year she won the barrel racing and all-around titles in the Central Rocky Mountain Region. A fierce competitor, she also goat ties. She won all of her CNFR barrel racing award on Rascal, a home grown, home broke and home trained horse. He has named Horse of the Year for the Central Rocky Mountain Region in 2012, when she captured the All Around Cowgirl title for the region—another saddle claimed two years back to back!
During four days in June when a high energy competition brings rodeo athletes from all over the country to Casper, Segelke started out well the first day in the first round. NJC’s Head Rodeo Coach Brian Cullen, would electronically file the following report with his colleagues back at home in Sterling, “Wow! Northeastern just had an awesome first round of competition at the College National Finals Rodeo. Slack started at 7 a.m. with an exciting barrel racing. Hayden Segelke had a breath taking run of 14.36 which placed her fifth in the first go-round.The breath taking part was that she tipped the second barrel and set it back up with her hand as she went by!.” Cullen would continue his reports back to campus, telling his co-workers about several members of Northeastern’s men’s team who had fared well in the steer wrestling, concluding with “then to cap off the day, Hayden came back with a 6.2 second run in the goat tying to split first in the event in the first round.”
During the second round of competition, Segelke tied her next goat in 6.7 seconds which kept her in the top five in the average on two head. In the barrel race, she finished three runs and was winning the average. The points were piling up, putting her at the top of the heap, headed for a national championship. By the second go, the NJC women’s team was solidly ranked second in the nation with all but 25 of the points having been earned by Segelke.
Having been named the Rookie of the Year at the CNFR as a freshman last year, this northeastern Colorado cowgirl showed anyone who was watching that her Rookie title was no longer applicable. She was now a super sophomore and Rascal was ready to take Segelke anywhere she wanted to go in the barrel competition. In the goat tying, she uses other fast, accomplished horses from the Segelke family’s herd.
Having done well in the barrel racing in rounds one and two, Segelke was able to size up her competition from the sideline on round three, preparing mentally for the championships coming the final and last day of the Casper competition. She cheered on her fellow NJC athletes, many of whom were still working to earn a spot in the championship round.
On day four, Saturday morning, the NJC coaches found Segelke doing her chores early and preparing for an ESPN nationally broadcast interview. She spent the day helping with a Special Olympics Rodeo after her interview, going to Cowboy Church at 2 p.m. and then saddled up for the championship round beginning at 7 p.m. She was handling the pressure like a pro. In the final round of competition, she would ride to a second place in goat tying and a third place in barrel racing. The points tallied, she walked away from Casper doing something that not many cowgirls ever do. Segelke won the title with 465 points. Kimberlyn Fehringer of Idaho State University came in as Reserve All Around with 445 points. The third place cowgirl was way down the boards with only 195 points. In team competition, NJC’s women’s group earned a total of 490 points, beat out only by the women from Idaho State University who earned 520 points and were at the top of the nation.
“Being back to back all around is a great feeling,” says Hayden. “It’s something that I had hoped for since winning my first title but it certainly wasn't expected. The most exciting part of it is enjoying the prestige and honor that goes along with it.”
According to Segelke, Northeastern was a good choice for her. “NJC helped me greatly along the way, the coaches care about each person on the team as a person, the team has been great, we're like a family and we have a lot of fun together which I think is very important to being successful in any discipline.” She notes that Northeastern’s practice facility at the Logan County Fairgrounds was a key component to her success these past two years.
“The practice facility at Northeastern is great. We were able to practice every day and always had good stock, both of which are important to success in rodeo.” She says she will miss a number of things about Northeastern as she moves on to the next level. “I'm going to miss my NJC family--the teachers, coaches, and most of all my teammates.” The two time national champion says that she has chosen Eastern New Mexico State University in Portales because it, too, has a good practice facility and is a respected school for her intended degree area, which is history. ENMU women’s team was ranked 14th in the nation and the men’s team ranked a respectable 9th in the nation at the Casper contest. Segelke will no doubt, add a significant boost to their program when she arrives there this fall.