With the rodeo season complete, the McNeese State University men’s rodeo team is the champion of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s (NIRA) Southern Region while the women’s team is the reserve championship team. As a result, 10 members have qualified for the 2023 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 11-17, in Casper, Wyoming.
Six members of the men’s rodeo team will be competing. Shea Fournier, Raceland, is the current National Champion saddle bronc rider, and will be competing in bull riding and saddle bronc riding for a chance to earn the All-Around title. Isaac Richard, Eunice, will compete in saddle bronc riding for his second trip to the CNFR. Kade Sonnier, Carencro, will participate in the bareback riding for his second CNFR and is ranked sixth in the professional standings. Connor Griffith, Bradford, Tennessee, will be bareback riding for his first trip to CNFR. Jude Leonards, of Bell City, and Brad Hesnor, of Ville Platte, both will be steer wrestling in their first CNFR.
Four members of the women’s team will be participating in the CNFR. Kamryn Duncan, Denham Springs, and Mersadie Martin, Lufkin, Texas, will compete in goat tying at their third CNFR. Duncan is the current National Champion goat tyer. Kaylee Cormier, of Iowa, will also compete in goat tying in her third CNFR qualification. Kylie Conner, Welsh, will be barrel racing during her first CNFR.
“I am proud of this team and physical work that they put in, but even more proud of their mental work,” said Coach Justin Browning. “They have shown that they can perform under pressure, and they can step up to challenges and overcome!”
The McNeese men’s and women’s teams both took second place at the final rodeo competition at the Trinity Valley Community College Rodeo in Athens, Texas.
Griffith won the Men’s All-Around title as well as the bareback riding event. Also placing in the bareback riding event were Sonnier, second, Devin Byram, Welsh, fourth, and Cody LeBato, Lake Charles, ninth.
In saddle bronc riding, Richard finished second, Fournier finished third and Griffith finished in eighth place. Hesnor placed fourth in steer wrestling.
On the women’s team, Martin finished third in goat tying and Duncan finished in fourth place. Conner finished third in barrel racing while Karli Kyle, Lake Charles, finished in sixth place.