New Mexico State University athletes qualify for College National Finals Rodeo

Dust, strong winds and unusually cold weather stormed through the final Grand Canyon region rodeo. The New Mexico State University rodeo team brought its game faces to the Socorro, New Mexico, event that would determine the top three finalists advancing to the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.

NMSU rodeo head coach Logan Corbett believes this is the strongest team to qualify for the CNFR since he arrived at NMSU.

“Every individual that will be making a trip to Casper has a legitimate chance of winning a national championship,” Corbett said. “If we’ll stay calm and take it one run or ride at a time, we will have multiple national champions.”

Senior Anna Barker, from Rochester, Washington, finished as the reserve barrel racing champion in the region. This was her last college rodeo in the New Mexico and Arizona circuit. Regional director and senior Carly Billington, from Cave Creek, Arizona, will compete in the barrel racing event as well. Regional directors are given the chance to compete in the event that they scored the most points in even if they are not in the top three.

“Through lots of struggles and mistakes, to setting arena records and winning countless buckles, Rios (Barker’s horse) took me to the top and got me another chance at the CNFR,” Barker said.

Sophomore Derek Runyan, from Silver, New Mexico, had countless rodeo average wins that led him to holding the title of the champion tie-down roper.

Senior Wyatt Jurney, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, took home the gold in the steer wrestling event. He had a strong spring season that led to him winning a championship title in the Grand Canyon region and a brand-new saddle.

“I have three unbelievably great horses: Frank the Tank, Nacho and Beetle Juice, they take care of me and help me win,” Jurney said. “NMSU has been a great atmosphere for my college rodeo career.”

Junior Tyler Muth, from Murrieta, California, finished third overall in the steer wrestling.

Freshman Levi Whitley, from Blanco, New Mexico, put himself in the danger zone all year in the bull riding event and was crowned as the Grand Canyon regional champion. He had a strong spring semester and covered many rank bulls. “I’m glad I achieved my goal and ended the season out on top,” Whitley said. “I’m excited to be able to have the chance to experience the CNFR my freshman year and hope to get some bulls rode up in Casper this June.”

Freshman Blaise Milligan, from Artesia, New Mexico, continues to the finals in the third position for the bull riding.

Senior Jace Cooley, from Musselshell, Montana, won reserve champion in the region for the saddle bronc riding.

Freshman Colton Clemens, from Firth, Idaho, spurred his way to the top in the region for the bareback riding event winning a champion title. “If feels good to finish the year strong, I appreciate everyone wo has helped me get to where I am today,” Clemens said. “I am going to work hard and push myself the whole mile to have a successful trip to Casper.”

Freshman Cauy Pool, from Klamath Falls, Oregon, rode his bucking horses aggressively during the Socorro rodeo and placed second in the region for the bareback riding.

Senior Savannah Montero, from Winnemucca, Nevada, is headed to the CNFR in the third position for the goat tying event.

“The CNFR will be the last rodeo ever in my life,” Montero said. “I plan to go out with a bang, I have nothing to lose so I hope to break arena records and compete as aggressively as possible.”

The Aggies will compete against every college rodeo region in the United States in Casper this summer.

For more information on rodeo, contact Corbett at [email protected].

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