Ross Murie, a Southern Utah State College student, is about as comfortable riding a horse and roping calves as anyone could possibly be.

The standout rodeo performer estimates that he was involved in an average of five rodeos per weekend from June through October last year."I did a lot of all-night driving to get from rodeo to rodeo," said Murie, who claims prize money of more than $13,000 last summer. "That beats workin' for a living."

The SUSC junior plans to continue roping calves after college.

While Murie, son of Roger and Pat Murie, Cedar City, claims to be only a calf roper, he leads the Rocky Mountain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in men's all-around. He ranks 11th nationally in all-around, even though the current national ranking includes only two rodeos. Cowboys from other regions have participated in more rodeos, giving them opportunity for more points.

Since those latest national rankings, Murie competed at a Twin Falls, Idaho, rodeo, where he finished first in calf roping, steer wrestling and all-around. He leads the region in calf roping and ranks fifth nationally.

Murie plans to compete in nine or 10 region meets this year and to compete again in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association rodeo, which means qualifying through the region. Last year he was the region team roping champion and finished second in calf roping, which entitled him to compete in the national collegiate competition.

Championship races are not new to 6-foot, 175-pound Murie, who started at Cedar City High School, where he was 1985 calf roping champion and the 1986 steer wrestling champ.

Rodeo events seem to come naturally to Murie, whose family operates a small livestock operation with a range near Iron Springs, Mud Springs and the North Fork on Cedar Mountain.