MARTIN, Tenn. – The ultimate destination of all collegiate rodeo teams, the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., is still two months away. But after this weekend’s Ozark Region finale at the UT-Martin Rodeo, two new champions will be crowned, as four total teams will officially get their tickets punched to the CNFR scheduled for June 9-15.
The Troy women’s team, ranked nationally at No. 5 in the country, takes a 690-point lead into the weekend over Southern Arkansas in the Ozark Region points standings, and sits just 240 points behind the nation’s third-place team in UNLV.
Of the 11 regions in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (Big Sky, Central Plains, Central Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Great Plains, Northwest, Ozark, Rocky Mountain, Southern, Southwest, West Coast), four teams from each – the top-two women’s and top-two men’s – will travel to the CNFR in June.
In the individual events, the top three competitors from each will represent their respective categories in the CNFR.
The sister duo of Kassandra and Kesia Smith lead all Trojans in the female goat tying event. Kesia enters the weekend first with 700 points ranked No. 9 in the country, while Kassandra (ranked 19th nationally) sits third with 520, just 20 off second place. Other Trojan Spurs in the top-15 include Lanie Culligan (eighth) and Kelsey Kennemer (13th).
The duo of Kelsey Kennemer (The nation’s No. 9 breakaway roper) and Cassidy Aldridge have accounted for nearly 700 of Troy’s points in breakaway roping, as Kennemer sits second with 443, just 15 off the lead, while Aldridge is fifth with 255 and within striking distance of third.
On the men’s side of competition, Troy as a team enters eighth in the region with 1,210 points.
Nelson Wyatt, who sits ninth in the men’s all-around standings, is currently seventh in tie down roping with 290 points, and sits eighth in steer wrestling with 295 points.
Zach Mabry is Troy’s only male to appear in the top three of his respective event, as he and Tennessee-Martin’s Ben Walker (The No. 9 ranked pair in the nation) enter the final weekend second in team roping. Mabry has handled the heeling portion of the event all season, while Walker has been at the header, as the duo carries a point total of 525 points into Tennessee.
Rodeo action from UT-Martin will begin Thursday night and will run through Saturday night with the short-go.
Be sure to check back with www.TroyTrojans.com following Saturday night’s short-go round for a recap of the weekend’s action, and an update on the Ozark Region points standings.