Rodeo team members representing McNeese State University at the 68th College National Finals Rodeo June 12-18 in Casper, Wyo., are from left: Matthew Frey, Alex Edmonds, Mia Manzanares, Chad Rutherford and rodeo coach Justin Browning.
(May 13, 2016) Four McNeese State University rodeo team members have earned spots in the 68th College National Finals Rodeo scheduled June 12-18 in Casper, Wyo. Qualifiers are: Mia Manzanares, Opelousas, breakaway roping, goat tying and all-around cowgirl; Alex Edmonds, Paris, Ark., bareback riding; Matthew Frey, Morganza, team roping heeler; and Chad Rutherford, Burleson, Texas, bareback riding.
Manzanares, a freshman, is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation in breakaway roping after winning the 2016 Southern Region championship in the same event. She is also ranked 15th in the nation for the all-around cowgirl honors and was the region’s reserve champion in this category. She placed third in the region in goat tying.
Manzanares said it “was cool” about competing in her first CNFR and being ranked so highly in an event, but she is no stranger when it comes to competing in rodeos at both the state and national levels. She won three Louisiana High School Rodeo Association goat tying championships, two all-around championships and a breakaway roping championship. She also won two National High School Rodeo Association all-around championships, a rookie all-around championship and a goat tying championship.
“Mia’s accomplishments are amazing especially since she competed a third of the season on a torn ACL in her left knee,” said McNeese rodeo coach Justin Browning. She plans to have surgery after nationals.
In bareback riding, Rutherford is nationally ranked No. 18, while both the men’s and women’s rodeo teams are ranked in the top 25 in the nation by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
In the region, Rutherford won the bareback riding championship, Edmonds was the reserve champion and Frey placed third in team roping heeler.
Rutherford is making his third appearance while the other three are making their first appearances at the CNFR.
McNeese intercollegiate rodeo began in 1947 and this is the 25th 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.
“We have a mature team that has been working hard and is focused,” said Browning. “I think we will do well again this year.”
At last year’s CNFR, McNeese captured the National Women’s All-Around Championship and National Reserve Championships in goat tying, tie down roping and team roping. The women’s team also finished as reserve champions.