GOODWELL — Panhandle State Rodeo and College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) are two phrases often associated with each other and it is no secret why. The team has certainly earned their reputation as one of the best in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) with six National Champion Men’s Teams over the years coupled with individual national championships in every event, with the exception of the goat tying.
The 2018 edition of the CNFR kicks off this Sunday, June 10 with the Bulls, Broncs, and Breakaway event and the 2018 CNFR qualifiers in the red and blue vests look to continue the path of success set before them during the 2017-2018 season. Oklahoma Panhandle State University will be represented by seven cowboys and two cowgirls.
The men in red and blue will be looking to repeat their 2017 national team championship coming off yet another dominating regular season. The men won seven out of the ten regular season rodeos edging out the competition by nearly 1,500 points when the dust settled.
The team is led by senior Will Martin. Martin has had a year to remember winning the bareback riding in nine out of the ten rodeos during the regular season. Not only did he claim the Central Plains Region Bareback Riding title, but he also claimed the Men’s All-Around region title proving to be a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the arena. Martin will compete in the steer wrestling in addition to the bareback riding.
He is joined in the bareback riding by teammate Dylan Riggins who finished right behind Martin in the year-end standings earning the regional runner-up in the bareback riding.
Goodwell is commonly referred to as the “Saddle Bronc Riding Capital of the World” and Jake Finlay and Dawson Dahm look to continue the legacy as they qualified for the CNFR by winning first and second in the region respectively.
Panhandle State will also be represented by a strong force in the bull riding. Callum Miller earned the Regional Runner-Up title in the Central Plains Region year-end standings. Miller will be joined at the finals by teammate and local Guymon talent Dustin Martinez.
The men’s team will be rounded out by Luke Meier. Meier will compete in the team roping, heeling for Sloan Smith of Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Martin, Riggins, and Finlay are no strangers to the lights of the CNFR having all been members of the 2017 National Championship team.
Assistant Coach Shelbie Weeder said, “Last year we had an outstanding CNFR. From the way things look, we have a great shot to have another fantastic year. Everyone that made it this year worked very hard to get here. I’m proud of them all and I’m looking forward to watching them all compete this week.”
On the women’s team, Breakaway roper Caitlyn Wiswell secured the third spot in the regional standings to punch her qualifying ticket to Casper. Wiswell has worked hard all year and will be a strong contender at the finals. She is joined by teammate Kaylee Smith who qualified in the goat tying and promises to be turning up the heat in hunt of a strong performance in Casper.
Sunday afternoon’s “Bulls, Broncs, and Breakaway” will see nearly all of the Panhandle State qualifying cowboys and cowgirls compete aside from Meier and Smith.
The 2018 College National Finals Rodeo will be broadcasting the Wednesday through Saturday performances live on ESPN3. ESPN3 is a 24/7 live digital network available on WatchESPN. WatchESPN is the app and website that allows you to watch the ESPN networks – live, anytime, and anywhere.
The CNFR will be available on the following devices and platforms: WatchESPN.com, iOS, Apple TV, Android, Chromecast, Kindle Fire, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Xbox, Windows 8, and Roku.