Aviation has always interested Shane Knerr. His passion for mechanical engineering brought him to Texas Tech. He’s been able to continue his rodeo career while pursuing his degree.
That’s made for a busy summer.
Knerr qualified for this week’s College National Finals Rodeo in the tie-down roping and serves as director of the saddle bronc riding. He’s also taking 11 hours of college credits this summer. This is in addition to his internship at Lockheed Martin, where he’s been building F-35 fighter jets.
“School’s the reason I’m going where I’m at and rodeo has definitely helped me get there and is something I definitely want to continue doing, but I also want to have something afterwards to fall back on,” Knerr said. “That’s been pretty fun but it’s been hard because I’m really busy while doing this rodeo deal.”
Knerr had his eye on this internship for years. He’d seek out Lockheed Martin at job fairs and began flying planes to build experience. The selection process for such an internship would be strenuous but Knerr shook it off. He became determined to make himself the best candidate.
“It’s pretty neat and pretty hard to get an internship there so I kind of set that as a goal,” he said, “and really try to talk to them as much as I could and end up getting blessed with an internship there.”
The junior will have more time for that internship, and classes, when the week’s over.
Knerr is tied for third in the tie-down roping after the second go-round. His time is just four seconds away from the lead.
His 9.7-second run in Tuesday’s slack went a long ways in moving him up in the average after a disappointing 11.7 on Monday. Now that he’s in the thick of it, he’s hoping to find consistency.
“It’s just a matter of being consistent through all four runs,” Knerr said. “I think that I can stay consistent and make a good run on the next one and it will all play out.”
And he’s done all of that while battling an injury. A few weeks before arriving in Casper, Knerr tore his groin. It didn’t keep him off a horse for long however, as he continued to rodeo in order to qualify for the CNFR.
Through the healing process he’s relied on constant tape from the medical team and adrenaline, which has helped him block out the pain and focus on dismounting. And when the calf he drew on Tuesday broke harder out of the chute than he expected, the adrenaline kicked in even more.
The pain lingers when the adrenaline wears off, but Knerr can’t stop. As long as there are runs to be made, he has a job to do.
“You have to (compete) and if you convince yourself that you’re going to get through it then you will,” he said. “It’s just a matter of having enough adrenaline going that it doesn’t hurt during the run. It just hurts pretty good afterwards.”
Knerr has to watch the saddle bronc every night for the week, as per his duties as director. He’ll return to his horse on Wednesday night for his third go in tie down. He hopes to make a smooth run in order to return on Saturday.
Between his internship, director duties, classes and injury, it may be difficult to find time to compete in the short go. But that hasn’t stopped him so far.
“It’s a lot, but it keeps me going,” Knerr said.