While a student at Payson High School from 1996 to 2000, Tim Baker was known to spend most of his free time honing his roping skills.
Those countless hours spent practicing have paid off: Baker, 21, is one of 21 New Mexico State University rodeo team recruits selected to receive the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
A senior majoring in civil engineering, the cowboy who calls Strawberry his home, transferred to NMSU this fall from Central Arizona College.
"I am excited to be in a well-run rodeo program," Baker said. "I think there is an excellent team here with great facilities."
Baker, a header in team roping, has been to the College National Finals Rodeo twice, placing third in the third round in 2004.
The scholarship Baker received was established by the former director of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Frank DuBois.
In founding the scholarships, DuBois lauded Aggie rodeo coach Jim Dewey Brown, who recruited Baker, for his efforts in molding the rodeo team.
"He has done an excellent job of recruiting and I am very excited about the quality of student athletes we are bringing to NMSU," DuBois said.
The NMSU team will provide a national stage for Baker to showcase his considerable rodeo skills.
He'll also try to help the team continue its winning tradition --he Aggies have fielded the men's and women's Grand Canyon region team champions the past two seasons.
In college and university rodeo, the season kicks off in September and continues through the school year before wrapping up in June at the collegiate championships in Casper, Wyo.
NMSU, based in Las Cruces, is New Mexico's land-grant institution, with more than 23,000 graduate and undergraduate students on the main campus.
Jimmie Cooper, 1981 PRCA All-Around World Champion, is a member of the school's athletic hall of fame.
While Baker was a student at Payson High, he often teamed with classmate Trevor Brown in high school and amateur rodeos.
The class of 2000 also had another renowned calf and team roper -- Kyle Conway.
Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley remembers Baker "as a really good kid who was a pretty good baseball player, but just wanted to rodeo."