Ten McNeese State University rodeo members have earned spots in the 71st College National Finals Rodeo scheduled June 10-15 in Casper, Wyoming. Qualifiers and their events are: Waylon Bourgeois, Church Point, bareback riding, Sandro Ferretti, Noves, France, bareback riding, Grace Ann Hanley, Welsh, barrel racing, Will Heinen, Hathaway, steer wrestling, Lathan Lyons, Eunice, saddle bronc riding, Mia Manzanares, Opelousas, goat tying and breakaway roping, Kati Murphy, Bell City, goat tying, Ryder Sanford, Carlyss, saddle bronc riding, Gabe Soileau, Bunkie, steer wrestling, and Ashleigh Young, Mansfield, Texas, goat tying.
Contestants compete all year in one of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s 11 regions for a chance to rope or ride at the CNFR. McNeese competes in the southern region where the women’s team is ranked No. 1 and the men’s team is No. 2.
Going into the national finals, the McNeese women’s rodeo team is ranked No. 10 while the McNeese men’s rodeo team is ranked No. 14.
Manzanares returns for her fourth straight year and is the reigning champion in her two events as well as last year’s All-Around Cowgirl. She also led the women’s team to its first national championship.
Soileau returns for his third appearance at nationals while Sanford is making his second trip.
Nationally, Manzanares is ranked No. 5 in goat tying, No. 6 in women’s all-round standings and No. 21 in breakaway roping. Soileau is ranked No. 12 in steer wrestling, Bourgeois is ranked No. 22 and Ferretti is ranked No. 25 in bareback riding and Sanford is ranked No. 23 in saddle bronc riding.
McNeese intercollegiate rodeo began in 1947 and this is the 28th consecutive year that McNeese has sent students to the national championship finals.
The NIRA crowns both individual event and team champions. Over 400 students from more than 100 universities and colleges will compete at this year’s competition.