SCOOBA – For the second straight year, East Mississippi Community College will be represented by three student-athletes at next week's College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. With national collegiate rodeo competition set to begin on Sunday (June 12) and running through the following Saturday (June 18) at the Casper Events Center, EMCC will be represented at the week-long CNFR by all-around regional champions Marcus Theriot and Katelyn Nicholson as well as Kody Rinehart.
Coach Morgan Goodrich's East Mississippi rodeo team has now had student-athletes qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo every year since the program's inception prior to the 2010-11 rodeo season. This coming week, EMCC's Theriot, Nicholson and Rinehart will each have three rounds of competition in their respective events while aiming to qualify for Saturday's championship round.
Expected to lead the way for EMCC's trio of competitors in Wyoming, Theriot enters the CNFR as the nation's second-ranked collegiate cowboy with 2,060 total points after claiming five all-around Ozark Region event titles during the 2015-16 regular season. As the all-around men's regional champion, the Poplarville product will compete individually in the tie-down roping and steer wrestling events while partnering with UT Martin's Lane Mitchell in the team roping competition. The 2014 National High School Finals Rodeo all-around cowboy and reigning Mississippi High School Rodeo Association's boys' all-around champion, Theriot currently ranks fourth among National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association cowboys in tie-down roping, eighth in team roping (header) and 18th in steer wrestling.
On the women's side, Nicholson likewise captured all-around honors to complete the EMCC sweep within the Ozark Region's respective all-around individual standings. Tied for 21st nationally among the NIRA's leading all-around cowgirls with 1,175 total points, Nicholson will participate in her specialty event as the regional barrel racing champion. The Lawrence native will also compete in goat tying during the upcoming CNFR.
Rinehart is making a return trip to the College National Finals Rodeo after competing independently for Blue Mountain College last year. The Kossuth High School product placed third in saddle bronc riding competition during this year's Ozark Region schedule.
At last year's CNFR, bull rider Winston Cheek earned 125 points by advancing to the championship round to give the EMCC men's team a program-best, 25th-place national finish. The 2014-15 East Mississippi squad was also represented in Wyoming by fellow bull rider Justin Reeves and all-around regional reserve champion cowgirl Kelsey Kennemer, who competed in team roping and barrel racing.
Two years ago at nationals, EMCC's team roping tandem of Colt Fisher and Justin Pruitt advanced to the finals in leading the Lions to a 28th-place national team finish. East Mississippi previously earned consecutive 35th-place men's team showings during CNFR events held in 2012 and 2013.
The College National Finals Rodeo is where the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association annually crowns individual event champions in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying. The top three student-athletes in each event and the top two men's and women's teams from each of the NIRA's 11 regions annually qualify for the CNFR. With more than 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges expected to compete this coming week in Casper, Wyoming, national team championships will also be awarded in the men's and women's divisions.
Online results from this year's CNFR will be updated daily and available on the NIRA's website, www.collegerodeo.com. In addition, the best action from the 2016 College National Finals Rodeo will be featured on ESPNU during two televised hours of recap coverage beginning at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, Aug. 18. Additional airings of the pair of one-hour recap shows are also slated to be shown on ESPNU throughout the remainder of August.