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Tarleton wins 2015 CNFR men's team, tie-down roping national championships
2015 NIRA National Champions Tarleton State University's men's rodeo team captured the 2015 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association's men's team national title by earning 915 points during the 67th annual College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Pictured (l-r) during the awards presentation are former CNFR commissioner John Smith, Landon Williams, Jace Lane, Jace Melvin, Brody Cress, Kody Lamb, Devan Reilly, Tarleton rodeo coach Mark Eakin, Kelly Eakin, Tarleton interim Vice President of Student Life Darla Doty, Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio and NIRA President Steven Birnie. (Image courtesy of Hubbell Rodeo Photography)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 22, 2015

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—The dust has settled at the 67th annual College National Finals Rodeo and, for the third time in program history and the first since 2005, Tarleton State University’s men’s rodeo team has been crowned national champions by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.

Tarleton’s cowboys concluded the weeklong CNFR Saturday evening as national champions after amassing 915 points through the short round, edging Panhandle State, which collected 835 points to finish as runners-up.

In addition to capturing the men’s team title, Tarleton’s Landon Williams earned this year’s All-Around Cowboy title and won the national title in tie-down roping during his third appearance in Casper, Wyo.

Williams’ All-Around title is also the third in school history during the past decade. The Midland, Texas, native earned 445 points en route to the individual title, capping his senior year at Tarleton with an impressive victory as he competed in both tie-down and team roping at the 2015 CNFR.

“It is certainly an awesome feeling when your team wins the national championship. I feel blessed to be part of the Tarleton Texans and for helping them get to the top of the nation,” said Williams, who’s majoring in agricultural services and development with a concentration in agri-industries and agencies.

Tarleton’s women’s team, comprised of Lauren Bane (breakaway roping, goat tying), Shelby Herrmann (barrel racing) and Baili Collins (goat tying), also had a great showing at this year’s CNFR, finishing fifth with 280 team points, and behind NIRA Southwest Region rival Eastern New Mexico (third place, 350 points).

In all, Tarleton was represented by 10 students at this year’s CNFR—an event known as the “Rose Bowl” of college rodeo—as the purple and white notched their seventh-straight appearance in the championship event.

“It was nerve-wrecking waiting for the final event to know if we had won it,” said seventh-year head rodeo coach Mark Eakin. “This year they ran off at the Southwest Region finale and just kept it going. It’s a weight lifted off our shoulders and a credit to the kids. I couldn’t ask more of them, and I’m glad to see this group do it.”

Williams led the Tarleton Texans during competition as he roped and tied his calf in a blistering 9.9 seconds in Saturday’s final round, earning him third place in the short-go and a fast enough pace to win the average. In all, Williams’ 39 seconds on four head was 1.6 seconds faster than second-place Bobby Abernathy of McNeese State (La.).

Aside from collecting 280 points in the tie-down roping, Williams scored another 165 as a heeler in the team roping event along with partner Casey Tew, a header attending nearby Weatherford College. Together the duo finished sixth in the average.

“Landon has always heeled very well, and this year he really worked hard at his calf roping and it paid off,” said Eakin. “We have a great team and any one of them are capable of being the leader. Landon was the one who stepped up and had an exceptional week at the finals, but it took all of us to get here and to win it.”

Tarleton freshman Jace Lane also had success during his CNFR debut, scoring 240 points while finishing second in the average in saddle bronc riding and third in steer wrestling. Lane finished with 271 points on four head, splitting second and third in the average in the saddle bronc event to collect 71.5 points towards his total. He finished seventh with a 9.7-second effort in the steer wrestling short-go.

“Jace had a really outstanding week. He’s just a freshman and he weighs a whopping 130 pounds, but he rides broncs very well,” said Eakin.

Bareback rider Kody Lamb took third in the average and fifth in the short-go, scoring 76.5 points on Saturday and amassing 296 points on four head.

Senior Devan Reilly recorded a no-score in the final round and dropped to a split of 11th and 12th in the bareback average.

Tarleton senior Jace Melvin earned a spot in the finals in two events, placing 14th in steer wrestling and also competing in the calf roping. He will return to competition for the purple and white next year after deciding to enroll in graduate school and earning one more year of eligibility.

Tarleton’s women’s team finished their 2015 CNFR appearance with 280 points, while Blue Mountain Community College (Ore.) captured this year’s team title with 517.5 points.

Shelby Herrmann scored 165 points for Tarleton’s cowgirls, finishing fourth in the barrel racing average. Baili Collins finished 11th in goat tying after recording a time of 11.6 in the short-go.

The last two team titles for the Tarleton men were won in 1967 and 2005. Williams’ tie-down national title is the 11th individual championship in Tarleton’s long history of success in the arena, and the third championship in the event. Alumnus and Tarleton Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee Ryan Watkins won back-to-back tie-down roping titles in 2004 and 2005, and was crowned the All-Around Cowboy at the 2005 CNFR.

This year also marked the third-straight year Tarleton has had an individual national champion after Billy Bob Brown claimed the team roping title in 2013 and 2014.

Following Saturday’s CNFR final round, Eakin said “it was just outstanding to see the looks on the kids’ faces and to know they reached their goal. Two of them won’t be back, but what a great way to end their college careers. We’ve had four thirds and a second since I’ve been here, and to finally finish it is a feeling you can’t describe. Getting to share it with Bob and Darla (Doty) and President Dominic Dottavio made it extra special.”

All of the action happened in front of a record-setting, near-capacity crowd at the Casper Events Center. The championship round will be broadcast on ESPNU, Thursday, Aug. 13 at 6 and 7 p.m. CST.

2015 College National Finals Rodeo Champions:
Bareback Riding – Tim O’Connell, Missouri Valley College, 331 points
Tie-Down Roping – Landon Williams, Tarleton State University, 39.0 seconds
Breakaway Roping – Tamara Tunink, Western Texas College, 11.9 seconds
Steer Wrestling – Cameron Morman, Dickinson State University, 25.1
Saddle Bronc Riding – Clay Elliott, Panhandle State University, 299.5 points
Goat Tying – Loni Pearce, Southern Arkansas University, 26.2 seconds
Team Roping Header – Kolton Schmidt, Southeastern Oklahoma State University 24.2 seconds
Team Roping Heeler – Sawyer Barham, Coffeyville College, 24.2 seconds
Barrel Racing – Callahan Crossley, Blue Mountain Community College, 56.00 seconds
Bull Riding – Gary Essary, Ranger College, 151points
Men’s All-Around – Landon Williams, Tarleton State University, 445 points
Women’s All-Around -- Kirsten Smith, McNeese State University, 285 points
Men’s Team – Tarleton State University, 915 points
Women’s Team – Blue Mountain Community College, 517.5 points

Complete results from the 2015 College National Finals Rodeo are available at www.cnfr.com.

Tarleton, a member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven educational experience marked by academic innovation and exemplary service, and dedicated to transforming students into tomorrow’s professional leaders. With campuses in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online, Tarleton engages with its communities to provide real-world learning experiences and to address societal needs while maintaining its core values of integrity, leadership, tradition, civility, excellence and service.

To learn more about Tarleton State University Rodeo’s winning tradition, visit www.tarleton.edu/rodeo.

dingbat

Contact: Mark Eakin, Tarleton Rodeo Coach
254-968-9187
eakin@tarleton.edu

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2015 NIRA National Champions

Tarleton State University's men's rodeo team captured the 2015 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association's men's team national title by earning 915 points during the 67th annual College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Pictured (l-r) during the awards presentation are former CNFR commissioner John Smith, Landon Williams, Jace Lane, Jace Melvin, Brody Cress, Kody Lamb, Devan Reilly, Tarleton rodeo coach Mark Eakin, Kelly Eakin, Tarleton interim Vice President of Student Life Darla Doty, Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio and NIRA President Steven Birnie. (Image courtesy of Hubbell Rodeo Photography)