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Two UT Martin Cowboys Advance To Championship Round at 73rd Annual College National Finals Rodeo


The UT Martin Rodeo CNFR team: Back: Stetson Bierman, Cole Walker and Chase Thrasher Front: Coach Luthi, Tyler Pruitt, Jesse Keysaer and Nelson Davis.
By Ryne Rickman

CASPER, Wyo. – The University of Tennessee at Martin placed two representatives in the championship round of the 2021 College National Finals Rodeo, a weeklong event that took place from June 13 - June 19, 2021.

Making its 46th CNFR appearance in the last 47 years, the UT Martin men’s team sent five cowboys who took part in six different events. Stetson Bierman (bareback riding) and Jesse Keysaer (steer wrestling) each earned their way into the Saturday night short go.

Bierman moved into the finals round after a steady performance all week. The junior from Hidalgo, Ill. placed 12th in the field in his first go on Sunday, tallying 75 points. He returned to action for his second round performance on Monday, posting 70 points to rank 15th. In his third round performance on Thursday he finished 15th with 71 points. During the championship round, he piled up 76 points to rank 10th in the short go. That led to an overall 292 average, which was good enough for 12th place in the field of 35 competitors as part of his CNFR debut.

A sophomore out of Culleoka, Tenn., Keysaer shined in his first career CNFR appearance. His event began on Monday, bringing down his steer in a time of 15.7 seconds, which ranked him 21st. He was back at it on Tuesday, compiling an impressive 5.6 to rank sixth out of all cowboys in the second round. During Thursday’s third round performance, he notched a time of 5.2 seconds (eighth-best score) to punch his ticket into the Saturday finals. In the championship short round, he ran into some tough luck and placed 10th after a no score. Overall, his 26.5 average placed him 12th out of 43 cowboys in steer wrestling.

Tyler Pruitt represented the Skyhawks in saddle bronc riding. The sophomore from Chesnee, SC finished 19th out of 42 competitors with a 135 average. His best performance came during his first round on Sunday as his 69.5 points ranked 14th in the field. After he was one of 17 cowboys with a no score in Tuesday’s second round, he bounced back with 65.5 points (19th place) in his third round performance on Wednesday to round out his CNFR debut.

Competing in his third career CNFR, Chase Thrasher took part in both the tie down roping and team roping events for UT Martin. He started his tie down roping performance on Monday as his time of 9.8 seconds was good enough for seventh place in the opening round. He then competed twice on Tuesday, posting a no score in the second round. He came back to place ninth in the third round with a 10.5-second effort as, ultimately, his 20.3 average finished 19th overall out of 44 cowboys.

In team roping, Thrasher joined forces with Cole Walker – a sophomore from Sparta, Tenn. who was making the first CNFR appearance. The duo opened their CNFR round on Monday, but did not compile a score in the first round.   Unfortunately, they also navigated some tough luck during Tuesday’s second round for a no score. During their third round on Wednesday, the team ranked 19th in the field with a time of 20.7 seconds. Overall, their 20.7 average was the 42nd-best time out of 56 competing pairs in the event.

As a team, UT Martin came in 43rd place with a total of 45 points. Clarendon College topped the men’s team standings with 890 points to win the national championship.

The CNFR puts a wrap on another memorable season under head coach John Luthi. The UT Martin men’s squad was ranked 11th nationally coming into the postseason, accruing 4,910 points during the regular season. The Skyhawks placed second in the Ozark Region behind seven second-place finishes and a pair of third-place efforts in their ten regular season rodeos.

CNFR Results:
Men’s All-Around: 1, Cole Franks, Clarendon College, 395. 2, Seth Peterson, University of Wyoming, 185. 3, (tie) Garrett Jacobs, Sul Ross State University, and Jace Staudt, University of Wyoming, 160.

Women’s All-Around: (tie) 1, Paige Rasmussen, Montana State University and Jill Donnelly, Cochise College, 180 points each.

Men’s Team: 1, Clarendon College, 890 points. 2, Panola College, 790. 3, Casper College, 755. 4, Western Texas College, 715.

Women’s Team: 1, Montana State University, 590. 2, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, 432.5. 3, Cochise College, 403.33. 4, East Mississippi Community College, 257.5.

Find full information about the CNFR at:

Read about the results at this year’s CNFR at: College National Finals Rodeo Crowns 2021 Champions

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