CASPER, Wyoming (June 15, 2019) — The 71st annual College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) crowned 2019 individual, all-around and team champions during the final round of competition Saturday at the Casper Events Center.
In the nine individual events and in the all-around, those ranked first when the night began were expected to take home the national championships. However, in rodeo anything can happen and in some cases the winners came from behind to earn their titles.
In goat tying Mia Manzanares, a recent summa cum laude graduate of McNeese State University, began the night ranked fourth. Manzanares, the 2019 CNFR champion in goat tying, breakaway roping and the all-around from Opelousas, Louisiana, trailed the leader by 1.1 seconds. Last year she won the final round of goat tying with a time of 5.9 seconds. This year she was even faster, stopping the clock in 5.8 seconds, to take the overall lead with three contestants still to compete. Her total time was 25.1, just two-tenths of a second slower than last year’s winning total.
But Beau Peterson, a freshman nursing major at Oklahoma Panhandle State University from Council Grove, Kansas, had a one-tenth of a second lead on Manzanares when the final round began. Peterson, who competed just after Manzanares, tied her goat in 5.9 seconds and tied Manzanares’ total of 25.1. The two contestants who were first and second coming into the finals were not able beat Peterson and Manzanares, so the two women are 2019 goat tying co-champions. Manzanares also won her second consecutive women’s all-around title.
Coby Johnson, an Idaho cowboy riding for Sheridan College in Wyoming, came into the final round of bull riding knowing a qualified ride would earn him the championship since he was the only cowboy to ride his first three bulls. But bull riding is nothing if not unpredictable. Johnson was the next to last rider to compete and Frontier Rodeo’s bull Show Ring threw him to the dirt.
That opened the door for Daylon Swearingen, a freshman from Pifford, New York, who rides for Texas’ Panola College. Swearingen scored 76 points on Vold Rodeo Co.’s bull Landslide to earn 237 total points and win the championship. Swearingen has been making his mark on the bull riding scene this year. He is currently ranked 23rd in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) bull riding standings and 19th in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR). He is also seventh in the PRCA all-around standings. Swearingen is one of the few individuals from east of the Mississippi to win a national championship at the CNFR in 71 years.
The steer wrestling almost saw another come-from-behind winner. Bridger Anderson, a sophomore at Northwestern Oklahoma State University from Carrington, North Dakota, led the event and was the final contestant. To win the title, he needed a time of 6.9 seconds or better. His slowest time of the week had been 4.7, so a time under seven seconds seemed likely. But that was before Anderson missed grabbing the nose of the steer and almost lost all contact with the animal. He managed to get it to the ground in 6.7 seconds to salvage the championship.
Taylor Munsell, a 2019 graduate of Northwestern Oklahoma State University from Harmon, Oklahoma, earned the breakaway roping championship with a total time of 10.5 seconds over four rounds. Munsell, who earned her degree in Health and Sports Science, won the title at her second CNFR riding a horse she bought for just $200. The 22-year-old cowgirl was also the breakaway reserve champion at RFD-TV’s The American in March. While Northwestern Oklahoma State University has a history of success at the CNFR, particularly on the men’s side, Munsell is the first woman to earn a championship for the school in Alva, Oklahoma.
A pair of seniors from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Dalton Titsworth of Ravenna, Paola, Kansas, and Kolton White of Sumner, Texas, won first in team roping with a total time of 27.9 seconds. Titsworth was competing at his first CNFR while White was back for the third time. His best previous finish was fifth in bull riding in 2017.
Chance Ames, a junior from Big Piney, Wyoming, riding for Sheridan College scored 82.5 points on Vold Rodeo Co.’s horse Wrangler Valley to win third in the final round of bareback riding. That score gave the construction technology major the championship by four points.
Junior Haven Meged from Miles City, Montana, earned Texas’ Tarleton State University a 2019 championship. He won the tie-down roping with a total time of 36.7 seconds. Meged, an ag industries and agencies major, finished tenth in the event at last year’s CNFR. He is having a great professional rodeo season – winning the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo and currently ranked in the top 10 in the PRCA world standings.
Sophomore Riggin Smith, who competes for Texas’ Clarendon College, won the saddle bronc riding with a 76.5-point ride on two-time National Finals Rodeo bucking horse Painted Coast from Vold Rodeo Co. That gave Smith, who is from Winterset, Iowa, third place in the round and earned him the championship with 311 points on four broncs.
Ashtyn Carlson, a 19-year-old sophomore at the College of Southern Idaho, was the barrel racing leader when the night began. All other events are run in a 12th to first-place order, but competition positions are drawn in the barrel racing where running near the first can be an advantage. Carlson drew the undesirable last position and watched as several racers clocked times that would have won first in previous rounds. New Mexico State’s Jayde Wamel turned in the week’s fastest time – 13.99 seconds. Carlson, from Loma, Colorado, did not succumb to the pressure – instead she made her fastest run of the week, 14.03 seconds, to secure her first college championship.
Caleb McMillan, a 21-year-old junior from Soap Lake, Washington, took home the men’s all-around championship for Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. McMillan competed in saddle bronc riding, bull riding and tie-down roping and qualified for the final round in bull riding.
Panola College, a two-year community college in Carthage, Texas, won the men’s team championship with another Texas school, Hill College, finishing second.
McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, took the women’s team championship for the second year in a row. Mia Manzanares won the 2018 title single-handedly, but this year the team not only got points from the goat tying and all-around champ, but from other team members. Reserve champion women’s team was the College of Southern Idaho.