BRYAN, Texas — The 103rd Texas Aggie Rodeo went underway Friday at the Brazos County Expo Center.
The Texas A&M Rodeo Team is set to host colleges from the southern region to compete in bareback riding, team roping, barrel racing, and more.
Students and head rodeo coach Dr. Al Wagner have been preparing for this weekend all year.
“The Texas Aggie Rodeo has been around for over 100 years,” Dr. Wagner said.
“We’re one of the founding members of the NIRA, which is the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.”
Dr. Wagner recalls being part of the rodeo team at Texas A&M from 1965 to 1969.
He says when he took over the program over 25 years ago, there were only about ten students on the team — and no scholarships.
“Now, I’ve got 45 kids that are competing for us, and we have over $100,000 in scholarships that we give out every year,” said Dr. Wagner.
“I love it. I ride my horses every day — it’s what I do. They’re my athletes, so I take care of them like an athlete," said Emma Smith, Vice President, Texas A&M Rodeo.
“I’ve been riding horses since I was seven years old,” Smith said.
“I grew up on a ranch, and I want to go back home and help work on that. Rodeo has always been a part of my lifestyle.”
Rodeo has also been a big part of Dr. Wagner's life — he's been coaching the team for over 25 years.
Smith says there are about 12 other schools competing in the southern region — some of the teams include Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, and Trinity Valley Community College.
The main goal for these competitors is to make it to finals.
“There are ten rodeos, and the top three in points in each event get to progress to Wyoming to the college finals,” Smith said.
Dr. Wagner is honored to be a part of the team, and is looking forward to retiring later this year, but for now — he’s proud of the rodeo team for working hard all year.
“I enjoy it — it's a two-way street,” Dr. Wagner said.
“The kids keep you thinking young. I can’t keep up with them, but I don’t try. I think we’re going to have the biggest crowds we’ve ever had tonight and tomorrow night — I really do.”
Anyone can catch all of the action at 7 p.m. on Friday, and at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
can watch their live stream on the Aggie Rodeo website.