By: Susan Kanode
The 69th annual College National Finals Rodeo kicked off on Sunday with the Bulls, Broncs, & Breakaway performance.
Nearly 400 contestants have made their way to Wyoming after having qualified by competing at rodeos in 11 different geographic regions. Each of them will have three opportunities per event and hope to be among the top 12 who advance to the Championship Finals on Saturday, June 17, where national champions will be crowned.
The first round of bareback riding, bull riding, and breakaway roping were completed Sunday. There is one rider in the saddle bronc riding who has a chance to change the leaderboard on Monday. Times were fast in the breakaway roping with two women finishing at the top. Brandi Epps from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Kenzley Wilson from the University of Tennessee-Martin each roped a calf in 2.3 seconds. That got their teams off to a good start with 75 points each.
In the bareback riding, it was Lane McGehee from Sam Houston State University who won the first round with 80.5 points. Will Martin from Panhandle State University was second with 78.5. After Martin rode, he got to watch his teammate Cody Ballard win the bull riding with 81.5 points.
The men's team at Panhandle State University, which is located in Goodwell, OK, earned 150 points with these two rides and will be hoping to add to it and get another national championship for the Aggies.
Preston Burr from New Mexico Junior College, located in Hobbs, leads the saddle bronc riding after scoring 78.5 points. Burr's coach, Marty Eakin, won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding championship in 2004. Cody Crim from Missouri Valley College is the lone saddle bronc rider yet to compete in the first round. Rodeo officials gave him the option of a re-ride, which he will take on Monday.
The first round of saddle bronc riding as well as steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and goat tying will be completed Monday during slack. The second round will start at 7 AM for bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riders as well as breakaway ropers.
Results Breakaway Roping: (first-round winners) 1, (tie) Brandi Epps, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Kenzley Wilson, University of Tennessee -- Martin, 2.3 seconds each. 3, Ryanne Tracy, Montana State University, 2.4. 4, (tie) Blair Bullock, University of West Alabama and Mia Manzanares, McNeese State University, 2.5. 6, Cassie Bahe, College of Southern Idaho, 2.6. 7, (tie) Hannah Springer, Southern Arkansas University; Loni Lester, Sam Houston State University and Shaylee Thacker, Utah Valley University, 2.7.
Bareback Riding: (first-round winners) 1, Lane McGehee, Sam Houston State University, 80.5 points. 2, Will Martin, Panhandle State University, 78.5. 3, Cache Hill, University of Great Falls, 78. 4, Kody Lamb, Tarleton State University, 77.5. 5, Chance Ames, Sheridan College, 77. 6, (tie) Rowdy Moon, Mid-Plains Community College; Tristan Hansen, University of Montana -- Western; and Rio Lee, Cochise College; 74.5 points each.
Saddle Bronc Riding: (first-round leaders) 1, Preston Burr, New Mexico Junior College, 78.5 points. 2, Brody Cress, Tarleton State University, 76.5. 3, Blaise Freeman, Western Texas College, 75. 4, Logan cook, Panola Junior College, 74. 5, Will Centoni, Cuesta College, 73.5. 6, Jalen Joaquin, Cochise College, 72.5. 7, Johnny Espeland, Blue Mountain Community College, 72. 8, Parker Kempfer, Sam Houston State University, 70.5.
Bull Riding: (first-round winners) 1, Cody Ballard, Panhandle State University, 81.5 points. 2, Ruger Piva, University of Montana -- Western, 80. 3, Chase Dougherty, Montana State University, 77.5. Kolton White, South Eastern Oklahoma State University and Coloe Melancon, Hill College, 76.5. 6, Aaron Williams, Cal Poly State University -- San Luis Obispo, 74. 7, Cody Hudson, Walla Walla Community College, 73.5. 4, Jake Davis, Northwest College, 73.
Information Courtesy of CollegeRodeo.com