May 13, 2003 11:00 pm

On the heels of their outstanding regular-season ending performances at the Northwest Regional Finals in Pendleton last weekend, Eastern Oregon has qualified two cowboys and one cowgirl to the NIRA College Rodeo Championship Series in Elko, Nev., beginning Thursday.

George Gillespie, Lee Felder and Katie Garijo have all qualified for the Elko event.

Garijo, Eastern's lone women's representative, will compete in goat tying. Garijo qualified as a first alternate and will get to travel to Elko because another competitor could not go.

Garijo's top finish this season was a win in breakaway roping at the No. 3 Northwest Region Rodeo held the day before the Eastern Oregon University Rodeo.

This is her first trip to the postseason and Eastern's first woman to gain a berth to the CRCS since its inception during the 2000-01 season.

Gillespie is making his third and final trip to the and final trip to the CRCS. This year is a repeat for Gillespie as he will be competing in the bareback and saddle bronc riding. Last season, he advanced to the College National Finals Rodeo in the bareback, but just missed out in the broncs.

Gillespie picked up points in eight out of 10 rodeos this year. He won the bareback events twice in 2002-2003 — once in Lewiston and once in La Grande.

Felder will join Gillespie in the saddle bronc competition. He finished in the regional saddle bronc standings just behind Gillespie in fourth place, and this is his first trip to the CRCS.

The CRCS will take place from Thursday to Saturday with the top seven competitors from each event qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo, June 8-14 in Casper, Wyo.