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Top Rodeo Athletes Headed To 2023 CNFR

Another year of college rodeo has come to an end, and champions crowned in 11 regions across the nation will head to Casper, Wyoming for the 2023 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) starting June 11 and running through June 17. The most elite young athletes out of over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from more than 100 colleges and universities will compete for the collegiate national champion title in each event.

Credit to CNFR Facebook Page

History of College Rodeo

The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) was established in 1949, made up of 13 original member schools and three regions: Southern, Northwest and Rocky Mountain. That same year, the first CNFR was held in San Francisco, California where Harley May was crowned the first NIRA All-Around Champion.

While the 50s brought trying times for the newly-formed association, Sonny and Joanne Sikes’ leadership entering into the 60s brought about a new era for college rodeo at a time when the sport of rodeo, in general, was experiencing significant growth. By 1966, membership totaled nearly 100 schools.

By the 80s, there were 155 member schools; and in the 90s, the CNFR moved from its 24-year home in Bozeman, Montana to Rapid City, South Dakota. Some of the most well-known and accomplished professional rodeo athletes like Roy Cooper, Chris LeDoux, Ty Murray, Tuff Hedeman and Dan Mortensen were also collegiate champions.

Credit to CNFR Facebook Page

Qualifying for the CNFR

Throughout the fall and spring semesters each year, each region hosts a number of rodeos with nine events including saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying to allow contestants to compete for a chance at the CNFR.

The champion, reserve champion, and third place winners crowned in each event in each region qualify for the CNFR; and in addition to those, the top two men’s and women’s teams also head to Casper. These region champions are determined by points earned throughout the season based on placings at each rodeo. This year’s top teams and athletes in the national standings heading into the 2023 CNFR include:

  • Men’s Team
    • Treasure Valley Community College
    • Missouri Valley College
    • University of Wyoming
  • Women’s Team:
    • Treasure Valley Community College
    • Blue Mountain Community College
    • Montana State University
  • Men’s All-Around:
    • Ty Pope
    • Hiyo Yazzie
    • Coy Aldrich
  • Women’s All-Around
    • Kennedy Buckner
    • Samantha Kerns
    • Haiden Thompson
  • Saddle Bronc Riding:
    • Garrett Cunningham
    • Jack Smithson
    • Quintin McWhorter
  • Bareback Riding:
    • Trevor Kay
    • Kooper Heimburg
    • Drew Lind
Credit to CNFR Facebook Page
  • Bull Riding:
    • Sage Vance
    • Lathan DeMontigny
    • Gavin Knutson
  • Tie-Down Roping:
    • Coy Aldrich
    • Zane Taylor
    • Cole Eiguren
  • Steer Wrestling:
    • Austin Madison
    • Wiley Karas
    • Chance Grill
  • Team Roping Headers:
    • Cooper Cowan
    • Jace Hanks
    • Will McCraw
  • Team Roping Heelers:
    • Wyatt Ahlstrom
    • Cade Cowan
    • Carson Johnson
  • Barrel Racing:
    • Gwyneth Cheyne
    • Kiersten Pettus
    • Sydney Wilson
  • Breakaway Roping:
    • Samantha Kerns
    • Raegan Steed
    • Kacie Wiersma
  • Goat Tying:
    • Heather McLaughlin
    • Haiden Thompson
    • Kennedy Buckner
Credit to CNFR Facebook Page

CNFR 2023 Event Schedule

On June 2, the draw will be available online to see when your favorite athletes are up; and then, the event officially kicks off Sunday, June 11 with two ‘Bulls, Broncs & Breakaway’ performances at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The rest of the week’s rodeo schedule is as follows.

  • Monday, June 12
    • 7:00 a.m. – Slack
  • Tuesday, June 13
    • 7:00 a.m. – Slack
    • 7:00 p.m. – 1st Performance (1st Go-Round Ring Presentation)
  • Wednesday, June 14
    • 7:00 p.m. – 2nd Performance (2nd Go-Round Ring Presentation)
  • Thursday, June 15
    • 7:00 p.m. – 3rd Performance
  • Friday, June 16
    • 7:00 p.m. – 4th Performance
  • Saturday, June 17
    • 7:00 p.m. – Championship Round (3rd Go-Round Ring Presentation/Championship Awards)

Individual event tickets can be purchased by phone, in-person or online starting at $10 for Sunday through Friday’s performances and $15 for Saturday night. Tickets for each slack round are available for $10. For those attending multiple performances, season tickets can be purchased online only starting at $75.

Credit to CNFR Facebook Page

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit From Cowboy Lifestyle Network to all CNFR 2023 contestants, good luck in Casper!

CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Originally from Earth, Texas, a small town in the Texas panhandle, I was raised around rodeo, agriculture, and the western lifestyle. With a degree from Texas A&M University, I have found a passion for promoting the lifestyle that made me who I am today. I am an experienced writer, marketer, and event professional with a strong desire to share the stories of those in our industry. When I’m not busy seeking out ways to promote the western way of life, I enjoy following those I care about around to rodeos, hunting, and going on runs with my blue-eyed, blue-merle Australian Shepherd.

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