With the last two rodeos on the season complete, the McNeese State University men’s rodeo team is the champion of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s (NIRA) Southern Region and the women’s team has finished in third place.
As a result, seven members have qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo: Shea Fournier, Raceland; Isaac Richard, Eunice; Gavin Soileau, Bunkie; Waylon Bourgeois, Church Point; Kade Sonnier, Carencro; and Ryder Sanford, Sulphur, men’s team; and Kamryn Duncan, Denham Springs, women’s team.
The McNeese men’s and women’s teams both took first place in the Wharton County Junior College Rodeo held April 22 in Wharton, Texas. In saddle bronc riding, Richard took first place, with teammates Fournier and Sanford close behind in second and third place respectively. Devin Byram, Welsh, also took sixth place in the event. In bareback riding, Bourgeois took third place and Sonnier placed fifth. Fournier also took fifth place in bull riding.
For the women’s team, Kylie Conner, Welsh, won first place in barrel racing. In goat tying, Duncan placed third, Kaylee Cormier, Iowa,took fourth place and Katherine Moss, Moss Bluff, placed 10th. Cormier also tied for fifth place in breakaway roping, which netted her the title of all-around champion. Karli Kyle, Moss Bluff, placed ninth in barrel racing.
The men’s team placed second at the Trinity Valley Community College rodeo in Athens, Texas, on May 2. From the men’s team, Soileau took first place in steer wrestling. Sanford also took first place in saddle bronc riding and Richard in third place in the same event. From the women’s team, Cormier placed second in goat tying and Conner seventh in barrel racing.
With the end of the season, Sanford is the Southern region saddle bronc riding champion, with Fournier and Byram ranked at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. Bourgeois is the bareback riding champion and Sonnier is ranked No. 7 in the same event. In steer wrestling, Soileau earned the reserve champion title while John Mayes, Welsh, was No. 6. For bull riding, Fournier is ranked No. 6. Conner finished ranked No. 5 in barrel racing and Vincent No. 7 in breakaway roping. Duncan is third in goat tying while Cormier is No. 7.
“Our team is a family and we started off this year with a goal: to win nationals,” says rodeo coach Justin Browning. “The team has completed the first step by winning the Southern Region and I truly believe our team members will bring home several national titles. They have been working hard and have not let off since the Trinity Valley Rodeo. Kamryn has been working with the McNeese Track and Field staff to improve her speed and agility and all the team members have been getting up at 5 a.m. to work out together and fine tune their skills. These student-athletes are already champions. I believe in them, and more importantly, they believe in each other.”
The McNeese rodeo team members will head to Casper, Wyoming, June 12-18 to face off against over 400 students from more than 100 universities and colleges representing 11 regions of the NIRA.