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UTM teams headed to College National Finals Rodeo

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The season-ending results are in from the Ozark Region as 10 University of Tennessee at Martin cowboys and cowgirls will be part of the field at the upcoming 71st Annual College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), which will be held in Casper, Wyo. on June 9-15. Camden’s own Raegan Taylor tops the list on the women’s team.

Those 10 student-athletes, as well as both the UTM men’s and women’s teams, will compete for a national championship at the 71st annual installment of the CNFR. The top two teams and best three participants from each event automatically qualify for the CNFR, which will feature over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges across the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

The CNFR is where the NIRA crowns individual event champions in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying. National team championships are also awarded to both men’s and women’s teams.

The UTM women’s team won the Ozark Region for the first time since 2011 and third time in head coach John Luthi’s tenure. Aided by a victory in the regular season finale at Northwest Mississippi in late April, the women’s squad piled up 2,417.50 points on the season to edge out Missouri Valley College (2,370 points) and Arkansas-Monticello (2,135 points) for the right to be called Ozark Region champs. The UTM women’s team is currently ranked No. 17 in the national standings.

Making its 45th CNFR appearance in the last 46 years is the UTM men’s team, who finished in the top-three in all 10 rodeos this season on its way to a second-place finish in the Ozark Region (5,250 points). The men’s squad has produced eight national top-10 finishes since 2005, including the 2014 national championship. The UTM men currently boast a No. 10 national ranking.

Representing the UTM women’s team will be barrel racers Taylor, Casey Allen (Vandergrift, Pa.), and Ashley Brooks (South Fulton), and teammate Kailey Schmidt (Cottage Grove, goat tying and breakaway roping). The UTM men’s squad will consist of Hunter Green (Bastrop, La., bareback riding), Robert Haley (Fairhope, Al., saddle bronc riding), Will McCraw (East Bend, N.C., team roping), Ryan McDaniel (Yuma, bull riding), Quentin Sawyer (Whitewater, Mo., team roping) and Chase Thrasher (Columbia, tiedown roping).

Anyone who wants to watch the UTM Rodeo Team compete at the CNFR can do so by watching ESPN3, which can be viewed on the WatchESPN app if it is not part of your cable or satellite package.

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