CASPER, Wyoming – The East Mississippi Community College men's rodeo team earned a second straight Top 10 national finish by placing seventh this past week at the season-ending College National Finals Rodeo. The week-long event concluded Saturday night at the Casper Events Center.
With five competitors making up EMCC's first-ever CNFR appearance as a team, Coach Morgan Goodrich's Lions recorded 425 points to finish seventh overall nationally and first among the 11 teams affiliated with the Ozark Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA).
Individually for East Mississippi, sophomore Marcus Theriot was bidding to repeat as the CNFR's All-around cowboy champion after single-handedly amassing 510 points to lead the Lions to last year's fifth-place national finish among the team standings. However, this year's national title escaped the Poplarville native during Saturday night's short go in the tie down roping event. As Theriot was preparing to defend his national championship in his specialty event, his calf was released out of the chute as he and his horse were turning in the box. The judges reportedly ruled that Theriot had nodded to signal he was ready, so he did not receive a score for the run.
Entering Saturday night's short go leading the All-around men's standings with 165 total points, Theriot had to settle for a third-place showing in his repeat title quest after finishing behind McNeese State's Cole Frey (243.3 points) and Bubba Boots of Northwest College (190.8). Theriot did earn 90 points in the tie down roping event with an aggregate score of 29.2 seconds (8.8/10.0/10.4) accrued through the first three rounds leading up to Saturday's finals. He also recorded 75 points when he paired with UT Martin's Douglas Rich to win the second round of team roping with a 5.4-second effort.
The highlight of Saturday's finals for EMCC was heeler Ethan Wheeler pairing with UT Martin's Ross Mitchell to claim short-go honors in the team roping competition with a winning run of 5.5 seconds. The tandem's composite score of 28.1 seconds (6.6/8.2/7.8/5.5) during the week collected 180 points for each roper and garnered a second-place overall finish.
The Lions' team scoring at the CNFR was rounded out with Tristan Martin's 80 points earned during the week's steer wrestling competition. The former McNeese State University transfer placed third with a 4.5-second run during the second round followed by a 4.8 effort to tie for sixth place a round later.
Also competing for EMCC during the week in Casper was North Pontotoc High School product Cooper Christensen in the steer wrestling event along with Jace Harris team roping with Cooper Lee from Southern Arkansas University.
Panhandle State University, out of Oklahoma, claimed the men's team championship with 827.5 total points followed by San Houston State University (715 pts) and Tarleton State University (690). While also featuring the women's All-around champion Loni Lester (245 pts), Sam Houston State (485 pts) won the women's team title over the University of Wyoming (355) and Eastern New Mexico University (345).