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Montana Western recognized as a "Great Montana College" by Montana Pro Rodeo

The Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame recognized the University of Montana Western at its annual awards banquet Jan. 31 in Billings, Mont.

Montana Western and Montana State University were featured for their continued success within the Big Sky Region and nationally. Coach Iola “Olie” Else was recognized at the event and was accompanied by a number of Bulldog rodeo national champions, current student athletes, Montana Western supporters and UMW alumni. 

“We’re so proud of legendary coach Olie Else and our excellent rodeo program,” said Montana Western Chancellor Beth Weatherby. “What a memorable experience for our amazing students and alumni to be honored by the greats of Montana rodeo.”

Montana Western rodeo has produced 11 national champions and in 2004 Else was recognized as National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Coach of the Year. Additionally, two Montana Western rodeo athletes have served as student president of the NIRA.

"It's a great honor for the Montana Western rodeo program to be honored by the Montana Pro Rodeo," said Else. "We have had many of our athletes go one to be national champions and we have more individual college champions than many of the rodeo programs in the state. We are a program that has seen a lot of success."

Else was joined by some of her current rodeo student-athletes at the event in Billings. These students shared the honor and the successes of the UMW rodeo program.

"To me, it is going to be great to recognized along with the people I have looked up to as a kid and during my rodeo career," said UMW rodeo athlete Doug Hall. "Some of the guys the Montana Pro Rodeo has honored are guys who kids dream of being like. It's going to be awesome to be among those people."

The annual awards slate featured a number of honorees with Montana Western ties. The Lifetime Achievement award was presented to the family of the late Benny Reynolds, of Twin Bridges, Mont., who won 1958 Rookie of the Year and 1961 All-Around buckles from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Reynold’s daughter Jenny Peterson competed in volleyball and basketball at Montana Western and her husband Jesse Peterson won a steer wrestling national championship for the Bulldogs.

Shawn Davis, a Montana Western graduate and Butte, Mont. native, was recognized with a Legend award. In college, Davis was a three time national champion with wins in saddle bronc, bareback and all-around. After graduating, Davis won three saddle bronc world championships, and has served as manager of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo since 1986.

The Garrison Family of Glen, Mont., received the Western Heritage recognition during the ceremony. Tim Garrison won the 1989 steer wrestling national championship for Montana Western, where he competed alongside his brothers Jim and Todd. Todd his wife Latresha, also an alum, are parents of current Bulldog rodeo athlete Holden Garrison.