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Ten Participants to Represent Both UT Martin Teams At 71st College National Finals Rodeo


By Ryne Rickman

MARTIN, Tenn. – The season-ending results are in from the Ozark Region, qualifying ten University of Tennessee at Martin cowboys and cowgirls to be part of the field at the 71st annual College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), held in Casper, Wyomong on June 9-15.

Those ten student-athletes, as well as both the UT Martin men’s and women’s teams, will compete for a national championship at the CNFR. The top two teams and best three participants from each event automatically qualify for the CNFR, which will feature over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges across the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA).

The UT Martin women’s team won the Ozark Region for the first time since 2011, and third time in head coach John Luthi’s tenure. Aided by a victory in the regular season finale at Northwest Mississippi, the women’s squad piled up 2,417.50 points during the season to edge out Missouri Valley College (2,370 points) and Arkansas-Monticello (2,135 points) to be the Ozark Region champions. The UT Martin women’s team is currently ranked No. 17 in the national standings.

Making its 45th CNFR appearance in the last 46 years is the UT Martin men’s team, who finished in the top-three in all ten rodeos this season on its way to a second-place finish in the Ozark Region (5,250 points). The men’s squad has produced eight national top-10 finishes since 2005, including the 2014 national championship. The UT Martin men currently boast a No. 10 national ranking.

Representing the UT Martin women’s team will be Casey Allen (barrel racing), Ashley Brooks (barrel racing), Kailey Schmidt (goat tying and breakaway roping) and Raegan Taylor (barrel racing). The UT Martin men’s squad will consist of Hunter Green (bareback riding), Robert Haley (saddle bronc riding), Will McCraw (team roping), Ryan McDaniel (bull riding), Quentin Sawyer (team roping) and Chase Thrasher (tiedown roping).

The CNFR is where the NIRA crowns individual event champions in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying. National team championships are also awarded to both men’s and women’s teams.

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