MARTIN, Tenn. – The final Ozark Region rankings have been released and seven University of Tennessee at Martin rodeo team members have clinched a spot in the upcoming College National Finals Rodeo, which will be held once again in Casper, Wyo. on June 15-21.
Considered the “Rose Bowl” of college rodeo, the CNFR is where the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association crowns individual champions in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying. National team championships are also awarded to both men’s and women’s teams. Over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges compete in Casper each year. Contestants compete all year in one of the NIRA’s 11 regions for a chance to rope or ride at the CNFR. The top three students in each event and top two men’s and women’s teams from the NIRA’s 11 regions qualify for the CNFR.
The UT Martin men’s team was responsible for its 29th Ozark Region championship since 1976 and 13th Ozark title under head coach John Luthi since 1997. Overall, the men’s team compiled 6,770 points, which was 1,658.33 points more than second-place Missouri Valley College. The men’s team will enter the CNFR as the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, a mere 19 points shy of No. 1 College of Southern Idaho.
The women’s team placed fifth in the Ozark Region standings, compiling 1,260 points. It marked the ninth straight year that the UT Martin women’s squad has finished in the top-five of the Ozark Region.
Will Lummus, Tyler Waltz, Clark Adcock, Tanner Phipps, John Alley and Colt Kitaif will represent the UT Martin men’s team while Nealey Dalton will represent the UT Martin women’s squad.
A senior out of West Point, Miss., Lummus will compete in steer wrestling and calf roping at the CNFR. Competing in his fourth CNFR, he currently ranks 12th in the nation in men’s all-around (1,255 points), 18th in steer wrestling (565 points) and 21st in tie down roping (500 points).
Waltz will be taking part in his third CNFR, as the senior from Jersey Shore, Pa. will compete in bareback riding. He will enter the CNFR ranked eighth nationally in that event with 1,070 points.
A junior from Smithville, Tenn., Adcock will take part in calf roping and team roping. Making his third consecutive CNFR appearance, he ranks in the top-25 nationally in tie down roping (495 points, 22nd), team roping heeler (430, 23rd) and men’s all-around (1,055, 24th).
Making his debut CNFR appearance is Phipps, whose specialty is bareback riding. The junior from Dalton, Ga. is ranked No. 9 nationally with 980 points in that event.
Alley will join forces with Adcock in team roping, where he ranks 23rd nationally with 430 points as the header. This will be the fourth straight CNFR appearance for the senior out of Clarksville, Tenn.
A senior out of Tylertown, Miss., Kitaif will represent UT Martin in bareback riding. This will be his second career appearance in the CNFR.
Dalton will be making her first CNFR appearance, as she will compete in barrel racing. The sophomore from Adamsville, Tenn. currently comes in at No. 16 in the nation (680 points) in that event.