SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College will be represented in the College National Finals Rodeo for the ninth consecutive year, as region barrel racing champion Carli Hodges prepares to participate in next week's national collegiate rodeo competition in Casper, Wyoming. The week-long event (June 9-15) will take place at the Casper Events Center.
Hodges, out of Summerdale, Ala., automatically qualified for this year's CNFR by claiming the barrel racing championship of the Ozark Region within the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. With four regional event titles earned during the 2018-19 rodeo season, Hodges compiled a region-best 865 total points to rank fifth nationally among the barrel racing standings heading into nationals. This past year, she claimed regional barrel racing event titles held at the University of West Alabama, Southern Arkansas University, the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Northwest Mississippi Community College.
Hodges will become the 16th student-athlete overall and the fourth woman to represent East Mississippi Community College at the College National Finals Rodeo since the inception of the school's rodeo program in 2010. The previous EMCC cowgirls to compete at nationals were 2015-16 NIRA Ozark Region women's all-around and barrel racing champion Katelyn Nicholson, 2015 CNFR barrel racing and team roping participant Kelsey Kennemer, and 2011-12 NIRA Ozark Region women's all-around champion Kellie Hailey.
On the men's side for EMCC, the Lions registered Top 10 national team finishes during each of the previous three years at the CNFR. Last year's 10th-place team showing was highlighted by Tristan Martin's individual national championship in the steer wrestling competition. The previous year while making the school's first team appearance at nationals with five participants, the Lions placed seventh at the 2017 CNFR. EMCC's Top 10 streak began in 2016 when current Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association member Marcus Theriot claimed the men's all-around national championship and tie-down roping national title to pace East Mississippi to a school-best, fifth-place men's team finish three years ago.
This year's College National Finals Rodeo is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN3, a 24/7 live digital network available via the WatchESPN app, beginning Wednesday and running through Saturday night's finals. Following three rounds of slack and performance competitions that take place through Friday night, Saturday evening will feature the short-go championship rounds in all nine events. Online results from this year's CNFR are slated to be available throughout the week at www.CNFR.com.
Showcasing more than 400 collegiate cowboys and cowgirls from four-year universities and two-year junior colleges located throughout the country, the College National Finals Rodeo is where the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) 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. National team championships are also awarded in men's and women's competition. Throughout the regular season, 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.