Tarleton’s Engesser Readies for Fourth CNFR


STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University rodeo team member Rickie Engesser is the model multitasker.

She has developed elite skills in goat tying, breakaway roping and barrel racing. In fact, she has qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in all three.

This year, in her fourth appearance at the annual CNFR in Casper, Wyo., she’ll represent Tarleton in goat tying.

She and her siblings, a sister and a brother, were in the saddle by age 2. Their father wanted to introduce them all to rodeo when they were young.

“He used to rope a lot,” Rickie said. “He grew up around it and he got us into Little Britches rodeos, then junior high, high school, 4-H, a bunch of associations to keep us going when we were getting started.”

As a high school standout in Spearfish, S.D., Rickie claimed two national rodeo crowns — barrel racing in 2014 and goat tying two years later.

From there, she plied her trade at Gillette College for two years, earning a slot in the 2017 CNFR goat tying, then returning as a breakaway roper in 2018 before donning Tarleton’s purple vest and qualifying in both events as a junior.

In her final season of college eligibility, Rickie is working on her master’s in consumer research and science and is on track to graduate in December.

“I always wanted to go down south,” she said. “After I went to Gillette, (Tarleton rodeo coach) Mark (Eakins) invited me on a visit and I committed. I really love the campus, and the town is just the right size. I love Texas.”


Last year, of course, the CNFR fell victim to the pandemic.

“It was definitely tough, not having the Finals. That’s everybody’s major goal. That’s why we go every weekend for 10 weekends, to make it there. This year we had to stay in that competitive mindset even though we weren’t sure early in the season if we’d have it or not.

“I had to make sure I didn’t give myself an excuse to not practice. Being up north, I still had places to compete. I still needed to work and practice with a purpose.”

“Practicing with a purpose” is Rickie’s mantra as she prepares for the June 13-19 CNFR.

“I try not to change much, just keep practicing,” she said of her CNFR preparations. “What I do work on more is having a purpose for practice. I work on simple things I need to perfect each run, not just practice to practice.”

Already an active professional rodeo athlete, Rickie has plans past the arena.

“I do want to rodeo. I’m going to try to go pretty hard this year, but I want to get a sales rep job, as well. I’d like to work for a big feed company or a vaccine company after I finish my graduate degree.”

Who’s to say she couldn’t do both.

She has already proved pretty good at multitasking.

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