College National Finals Rodeo
The College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) takes place yearly in Casper, Wyoming during the second week of June. It is where the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) crowns year-end individual champions in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying. The CNFR also awards national team championships to both men’s and women’s teams.
Contestants compete all year in one of the NIRA’s 11 regions for a chance to participate in the CNFR. The top three students in each event and the top two men’s and women’s teams from the region qualify for the CNFR.
This year’s men’s team championship went to Panola Junior College in Carthage, Texas, earning first out of 54 teams. Unfortunately, UT-Martin men’s team was 54th.
The women’s team championship was earned by McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, taking first out of 36 teams. The University of Arkansas-Monticello placed 18th and Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky earned 29th place.
View this year’s schedule and daily results in each event at: https://cnfr.com
Also read more and see photos from this year’s CNFR at the Casper Star Tribune: https://trib.com/sports/rodeo/
Nothin’ But Try Scholarship
The Casper Star Tribune published a moving story about a remarkable UT Martin cowboy, Weston Hamilton, who was this year’s recipient of the Shane Drury Nothin’ But Try scholarship. The scholarship is a $25,000 grant given annual to a student through the NIRA. It was awarded to Hamilton for overcoming family adversity in his pursuit of rodeo. Hamilton lost his father at age 5, and he recently completed his freshman season of bareback riding for UT Martin.
Hamilton grew up in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Hamilton and his brother went through some very tough times growing up, with a father who had a drug habit he couldn’t shake, which eventually led to his death.
But one of the positive things he remembers about his dad was watching him compete as a bulldogger. Hamilton’s mother was opposed to her son doing anything but watching rodeo, but Hamilton rode for the first time in a junior rodeo. He got hooked and wanted to ride in bareback events at Tellico Plains High School.
Hamilton’s mother wouldn’t sign the release papers for high school rodeo competition, but he forged his mother’s signature and drove himself to nearly all the high school rodeo competitions. He eventually qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo.
But rodeo took its toll, as Hamilton sustained multiple broken bones in his back and neck. He began to concentrate more on his academics and finished high school with a 4.2 GPA and was the salutatorian of his class. His ACT score of 31 opened many opportunities for college.
Hamilton eventually returned to the sport of rodeo, which his father got him interested in, as he continued to try to make his own way, which is ultimately why Hamilton was chosen as the recipient of this scholarship. Established in memory of former national college bull riding champion Shane Drury, who fought through three bouts of cancer to continue riding and judging at rodeos before he died from the disease in 2006, the Nothin’ But Try scholarship has been awarded every year since Drury’s death to a student-athlete that’s been dealt numerous setbacks but has never given up the pursuit of rodeo.
Read the full story about UT Martin cowboy Weston Hamilton here: https://trib.com/sports/rodeo/tennessee-martin-s-hamilton-overcomes-tough-past-eyes-rodeo-future/article_bad81541-e426-5ef2-8b3e-d7af69bc49f5.html
Potter, Davis. 2019. “Tennessee-Martin’s Hamilton overcomes tough past, eyes rodeo future.” Casper Star Tribune. June 15.
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