By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
LUBBOCK — In her first season with the Lady Red Raiders, Dora graduate and former Eastern New Mexico University Zia Brittany Bennett is the top barrel racer in the Southwest Region, and in the process has helped the Texas Tech women’s rodeo team claim third place in the 17-team region.
“It’s a pretty neat accomplishment to win the Southwest Region,” Bennett said. “It’s really exciting because my horse and I have come a long way and we’ve kind of grown up together since high school, so it’s neat to accomplish something like that with your partner.”
As the Southwest Regional barrel racing champion, Brittany will compete in the National College Finals in Casper, Wyo., June 10-16.
“Of course, my goal is to win it,” Brittany said. “It’s going to be a pretty neat experience.”
In addition to the National College Finals, Brittany will be getting married May 12 to PRCA cowboy Jarrod Hosstetter. Hosstetter was the 2005 PRCA calf-roping rookie of the year.
“I’ll be newly-wed, so my husband will get to go with me up there,” Brittany said.
“She’s really boosted Tech up to the point where the team has a chance to win regionals,” Brittany’s dad, Charles, said.
But there was a time when the agricultural communications major wasn’t planning on going back to college.
Following her sophomore year at ENMU in 2005, in which she competed in the College National Finals, Bennett won the Miss Rodeo New Mexico pageant, and took a year out of school to participate in the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas, Nev.
That’s when Texas Tech made her an offer she couldn’t refuse— a full scholarship to become a Lady Red Raider.
“We’re just really pleased that Tech pursued her and told her that, ‘Hey, if you come and rodeo for us, then we’ll pay for your schooling,’” Brittany’s mom, Beverly, said.
Brittany Bennett is majoring in Ag communications at Tech, and when she’s not busy with rodeo, she’s occasionally on the radio, doing farm shows.
She started barrel racing with Little Wranglers, then moved on to 4-H and High Plains Junior Rodeo Circuit. At Dora, she went to nationals two years straight.
“We are so very proud of her because she’s goal-oriented and sets her own goals. She works hard to get all that stuff done,” Charles said. “She earned her way through all of that stuff from just her own efforts.”
Brittany’s parents said their daughter’s success is largely due to her competitiveness — a trait she inherited.
“We’re all very competitive,” Beverly said. “It runs deep in the family.”