The College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) is the final event on the college rodeo circuit, with the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) crowning individual and team national championships from June 12-18 in Casper, Wyoming. As always, the event has a large local flavor with several schools from the Sooner State sending participants who performed well in the Central Plains Region throughout the year.
• The men’s team from Panhandle State won the Central Plains Region and they are the 10th-rated team in the nation heading into the CNFR after racking up 4,895 points in competition. The Aggies are coming off a national runner-up finish at the CNFR last summer and they will send six cowboys to the event, led by four seniors. Clay Elliot is the reigning CNFR Champion in Saddle Bronc riding and the Aggies also feature regional champions Shade Etbauer (All-Around), Jake Finley (Saddle Bronc) and Logan Patterson (Bareback).
• Northwestern Oklahoma State will be sending their women’s team to the CNFR after winning the Central Plains Region by close to 600 points this season. The Rangers finished 15th at the CNFR last season and they enter the event this year as the 13th-rated team with 2,640 team points earned. Leading the way for Northwestern is Shayna Miller, the regional champion in goat tying, and Sara Bynum, who placed third in the region in barrel racing.
• A large group of 11 competitors will represent Southwestern Oklahoma State at the CNFR this year after both of the Bulldogs teams finished second in the Central Plains Region. A veteran team with several CNFR returners, SWOSU is led by Jake Stemo, who will compete in bareback riding and bull riding after finish second in the region in the all-around, and Mickey Andrews, the regional champion in bull riding. Paige Wiseman is the All-Around Cowgirl from the region as a freshman and she will be competing in barrel racing and breakaway in Casper.
• Both teams from Southeastern Oklahoma State placed in the Top 20 at the CNFR last season, but the Savage Storm will be represented by four freshmen and one junior – all newcomers – at the event in 2016. The good news for Southeastern is that junior transfer Brody Braden is making his third straight CNFR appearance after previously roping at Cossatot Community College in Arkansas and he will compete with Kolton White in team roping. Southeastern will have two female participants in Casper, with Mikayla Phillips in breakaway and ShiAnn Henderson in goat tying.
• The schools from Oklahoma dominated on the Central Plains Region circuit in 2015-16, claiming the top six positions in the final men’s team standings and four of the top five places in the women’s team rankings. Because of that, complete teams from Panhandle State (Men’s), Northwestern Oklahoma State (Women’s) and Southwestern Oklahoma State (both) will be competing in Casper, looking to bring home the first NIRA National Championship since the Panhandle State men’s team claimed the crown in 2013.