UMW News BureauThree of the University of Montana Western’s rodeo team members received the honor of being named 2010 Academic All Americans by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). By Kaitlin Ens Three of the University of Montana Western’s rodeo team members received the honor of being named 2010 Academic All Americans by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA). Recipients must be current NIRA members, hold a 3.5 grade point average, and have qualified for the year’s College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, Wyo. Over fifty NIRA members received this award for 2010, including Montana Western’s Megan Crist, Kelsie McInerney, and Reef Mills. Megan Crist is a sophomore in the secondary education program. Originally from Twin Falls, Idaho she now rides for Montana Western’s nationally competitive rodeo team. She won the Big Sky regional breakaway roping and qualified for the 2010 CNFR in the same event. In addition to being named an Academic All American, Crist was awarded a $1,000 academic scholarship at the CNFR Scholarship Awards Banquet. She also received a $600 scholarship for winning the Big Sky breakaway title. “Megan is a great student athlete,” Bulldog coach Iola Else said. “She serves on the UMW Student Senate and is a captain of the rodeo team. She juggles school, a job, caring for horses and practice. I could not have been more proud of her being named as a CNFR and NIRA All American.” For the current 2010 /2011 season Crist is ranked third in goat tying for the Big Sky region and 20th nationally. Like Crist, Kelsie McInerney successfully balances school and rodeo. McInerney is from Alzada, Mont. and is a sophomore in the business program. She qualified for the 2010 CNFR in breakaway roping along with Crist. “Kelsie McInerney has spent hours in the practice pen and riding colts,” Else added. “She is a dedicated rodeo athlete and student.” McInerney’s dedication has continued to pay off. For the current season she is ranked eighth in barrel racing and ninth in breakaway for the Big Sky region. Reef Mills, from Augusta, Mont., is a junior in the business program. Mills came to Montana Western as a football player and walked on to the rodeo team. He qualified for the 2010 CNFR in steer wrestling. Despite his original intention of playing football Mills continues to excel in rodeo. “He practices year round and works hard to be a successful steer wrestler,” Else stated. “Although Reef is quiet, he is a force in the steer wrestling event.” Mills is currently ranked first in steer wrestling for the Big Sky region. The first spring rodeo will be hosted by Montana State University on April 7 through April 10.