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UT Martin Men’s Team Finishes Ninth at 2018 College National Finals Rodeo


By Ryne Rickman

Casper, Wyo. – Seven University of Tennessee at Martin student-athletes turned in memorable performances at the 70th annual College National Finals Rodeo, which ran June 10-16, 2018 at the Casper Events Center.

Making its 44th trip to the CNFR in the last 45 years, the UT Martin men’s team finished ninth out of 56 teams with 370 overall points during the weeklong event. That marks the eighth national top-10 finish for UT Martin under head coach John Luthi since 2005. The Panhandle State (Oklahoma) brought home the 2018 team title with a total of 750 points.

A pair of UT Martin cowboys advanced to Saturday’s short rounds as part of the top-12 in their respective events. Freshman Chase Thrasher won the tie down roping short round by a full second with a time of 8.4. Junior Ryan McDaniel was one of all 12 participants in the bull riding finals who did not record a score.

Thrasher’s average time of 43.6 seconds earned him a fourth-place finish out of 49 cowboys who took part in the tie down roping event. The Columbia, Tennessee native opened with a time of 15.2 in Monday’s first go, placing 24th in the individual standings. He followed that with 9.6 on Tuesday, which was the fourth-best time in the second round. Thrasher then posted 10.4 in Wednesday’s third go, which ranked ninth and punched his ticket to the finals.

A Yuma, Tenn. native, McDaniel earned a spot into the bull riding short round with a strong performance during the CNFR’s opening day on Sunday. He dialed up a score of 80.5 points to begin his second straight CNFR appearance, which ranked second in the field of 48 participants. McDaniel then ran into some tough luck with no scores during both Tuesday’s second go and Thursday’s third go. After Saturday’s championship round, he placed sixth in the nation with an 80.5 average score.

Jonny Walker, a junior from Wildersville, Tenn., barely missed out on the Saturday finals in bareback riding when his 215.5 average ranked 13th in the final standings. He placed 15th in the opening round with a score of 67 points on Sunday, followed by performances of 74.5 in Tuesday’s second go (ranking 10th) and 74 in Thursday’s third round (11th).

The lone UT Martin women’s team representative was Kenzley Wilson, a senior from Black Oak, Ark. at her second consecutive CNFR appearance. She was one of 49 participants in barrel racing, finishing 27th overall with a 45.48 average. She began with a time of 15.00 seconds on Monday, which placed 20th. Her best time of the event was 14.83 (16th) in the second round on Tuesday. In her third go performance on Friday, she rounded the barrels in 15.65 seconds.

Sophomore Ross Mitchell of Bolivar, Tenn. was header in the team roping duo with heeler Ethan Wheeler of East Mississippi Community College. The tandem did not score during the first go on Monday, but ranked 13th with a time of 10.5 seconds in Tuesday’s second round. Later that day, the pair did not failed to score in the third round, and had to settle for a 32nd place finish out of 48 teams with a 10.5 average score.

A pair of UT Martin cowboys competed in steer wrestling: Cord Barricklow and Colton Matthews were two of 50 qualifiers in the event. Barricklow got off to a fast start on Monday when his time of 4.0 seconds ranked second in the individual standings after the first round. However, the graduate student from Lebanon, Ind. battled through some hard luck as he did not score in his performances over the next two days; he finished 38th with a 4.0 average. Matthews also began well as his 4.7 on Monday was the seventh-best time recorded in the first round. But like his teammate Barricklow, he ran into some tough luck with no scores in Tuesday’s second go and Friday’s third round. As a result, the junior from Homeland, Fla. placed 40th overall with an average score of 4.7.

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