POPLARVILLE, Miss. — When Frank Graves Jr. was hired to lead the Pearl River rodeo program, the Poplarville native hammered home his hope of giving the Wildcats a jolt.
If early roster numbers and interest in the program are any indication, Graves is already following through on his word.
Graves announced Tuesday he will carry a 28-person roster in the 2020-21 season. The roster is heavily comprised of local Poplarville standouts, but also includes student athletes from throughout Mississippi, Louisiana and even Florida. Only one Wildcat, Anna Graham, is a returner from a year ago.
"I feel like we'll have a real strong team this year," Graves said. "For our first year starting out, I think we'll be competitive in our region. We have a good mix of kids coming in across the board. We're just excited to have them all coming. This is a good young group of kids we'll build on.
"It will be a solid foundation for the program moving forward."
The Wildcats compete in eight categories, comprised of bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping and bull riding. PRCC will once again face off against the best of the Ozark Region, which is comprised of UT-Martin, East Mississippi, West Alabama, Northwest Mississippi, Southern Arkansas University and Murray State, among other schools.
This year's PRCC roster is comprised of:
- Lauren Booty; Amite School Center; Liberty, Miss.
- Sarah Booty; Amite School Center; Liberty, Miss.
- Mary Grayson Martin; Sharkey-Issaquena Academy; Anguilla, Miss.
- Victoria Giovengo; Northshore High; Slidell, La.
- Lexi Frost; Pearl River High; Slidell, La.
- Kylee Ladner; Hancock High; Kiln, Miss.
- Kailin McRaney; Florence High; Florence, Miss.
- Brooklyn Blakeney; Enterprise High; Enterprise, Miss.
- Taneale McGowen; Hancock High; Kiln, Miss.
- Anna Graham; West Marion High; Sandy Hook, Miss.
- Ashley Henderson; Abeka Virtual Academy; Pensacola, Fla.
- Bryce Graves; Poplarville High; Poplarville, Miss.
- Kason Davis; Poplarville High; Lumberton, Miss.
- Will Smith; Poplarville High; Poplarville, Miss.
- Roper Stoots; Louisville High; Louisville, Miss.
- Wyatt Leopard; Rankin County High; Florence, Miss.
- Blake Lyons; Silliman Institute; Ethel, La.
- Jeb Stewart; Home schooled; Hurley, Miss.
- Preston Day; Amite School Center; Kentwood, La.
- Koby Sanchez; Home schooled; Ethel, La.
- Pacey McBride; Poplarville High; Poplarville, Miss.
- Clayton Spiers; Pearl River Central High; Carriere, Miss.
- Victoria Ladner; Poplarville High; Poplarville, Miss.
- Laken Abernathy; Home schooled; Braxton, Miss.
- Kaitlyn Holland; Amite County High; Liberty, Miss.
- Hunter Norris; Poplarville High; Poplarville, Miss.
- Kailee Duval; Wayne Academy; Waynesboro, Miss.
- Kaylie Ward; Fontaine Bleau; Abita Springs, La.
SAVE THE DATES
While most of Pearl River's other teams have seen their schedules altered due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the PRCC rodeo team's National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association schedule is currently unchanged for the fall.
The Wildcats will open the season Sept. 17-19 at the Missouri Valley Rodeo in Marshall, Missouri.
PRCC visits Livingston, Alabama, Sept. 24-26 for the West Alabama Rodeo Showdown. After competing in the Three Rivers Rodeo in Sikeston, Missouri, Oct. 15-17, the Wildcats visit Magnolia, Arkansas, Oct. 29-31 for the Southern Arkansas Rodeo.
Pearl River will conclude its fall slate Nov. 19-21 in Murray, Kentucky, at the Murray State Rodeo.
PRCC's spring schedule has not yet been finalized. Graves said the Wildcats are still hoping to host an event next semester.