Hoping for an eighth team championship, Tarleton State University’s rodeo teams are among 400 contestants in Casper, Wyo., this week for the 69th annual College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
Tarleton’s men’s and women’s rodeo teams both enter the CNFR as National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Southwest Region champions and are at the summer season finale for the eighth straight year.
Experience is on Tarleton’s side as several members of Coach Mark Eakins’ team are repeat CNFR qualifiers, including Kody Lamb—a graduate student from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada—who’s making his fifth appearance. Regional goat-tying champion Baili Collins is making her fourth appearance, and Lauren Bane, who topped all breakaway ropers in the region, her third.
“It’ll be nice that they’ll know what to expect,” Eakin said. “They’ve been there, so hopefully they’re ready to go.”
The CNFR features the top two teams from each of the NIRA’s 11 regions and the top two regional champions of each event.
Competition began Sunday night with the bronc, bulls and breakaway performance. Tarleton saddle bronc rider Brody Cress slipped into second place after the first day with a 76.5 tally, two points out of first, while teammate Lamb took fourth in the first go of the bareback riding with a 77.5 score.
Also representing Tarleton at this year’s CNFR are tie-down ropers Reid Zapalac and Kyle Parrish, saddle bronc rider Jace Lane, team roper Zach Kraus, barrel racer Lindsey McLeod, and breakaway roper Abby Medlin. Zapalac also will compete in the team roping competition.
The rodeo runs through Saturday, when champions will be named. To view the complete CNFR schedule and daily results, see www.cnfr.com.