Tarleton State Men Claim National Crown at CNFR, Women Reserve Champions

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — The Tarleton State University men’s team claimed the program’s 38th and 39th national championships at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, Wyo., jumping up from third place at the start of Saturday’s last go-round.

champions plaque

The men, paced by individual saddle bronc riding champion Gus Gaillard, amassed 895 points to top runner-up and National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Southwest Region rival Clarendon College.

“Anytime a group of guys work as hard as these guys did, it’s great to see them rewarded,” said Tarleton State rodeo head coach Mark Eakin. 

“We felt pretty good going into the finals. Things had to fall just right, but we were in a good position. We had eight of our 10 team members, men and women, who were in a position to challenge for a national title.”

Gaillard scored an impressive 83.5 to tie for first in the championship finals and win the average with a four-head total of 319, featuring 78.5 scores in all three preliminary rounds.

“I felt like I rode pretty consistently all week,” he said. “I went at each ride the same way but I got a little better horse in the finals and I was able to take advantage of that.”

Gaillard edged Tarleton State teammate Ira Dickinson, who tied for first in the finals with his own 83.5, earning reserve champion status with a composite 317.5.

national champion saddle bronc rider

Bareback rider Roedy Farrell took top honors in the championship finals with his 81.5 and wound up fourth in Casper with a 313 total. Landris White cemented a fifth-place CNFR finish in the finals with his personal CNFR best 4.5 in steer wrestling.

The team of Gaillard, Dickinson, Farrell, White, saddle bronc rider Bailey Small and bull rider Mason Spain combined to claim Tarleton State’s second national crown in the last three years.

Gaillard was not surprised at the final team results. “Not surprised at all,” he said. “That’s what we all came for. Obviously, we all wanted to win individual titles, but the team title came first for all of us. Anything we did individually benefitted the team, so we all went out there and did all we could. Didn’t leave anything on the table.”

Tarleton State’s women, barrel racers Jordan Driver and Hadley Tidwell, along with goat tyers Rayme Jones and Tori Brower, trailed only the University of West Alabama on the final leaderboard.

Driver’s 14.15 Saturday put her in third position in the average with a combined 56.53, including a 13.84 to win the third go. Tidwell’s 57.33 total included a 14.26 Saturday, and was good for seventh on the night and ninth overall.

Rayme Jones’ 10th-place 8.5 in the goat tying finals gave her a fourth-place 27.2 in the average and featured a 6.1 first-place time in the second go-round. “Our ladies had an outstanding showing at the CNFR,” said Tarleton State women’s coach Brittany Stewart. “Goat tying and barrel racing are arguably two of the most competitive events. To see them support each other the way this team does makes college rodeo an amazing thing to be a part of.”

2024 tarleton state rodeo
The 2024 Tarleton State men’s and women’s rodeo CNFR participants.
A founding member of The Texas A&M System, Tarleton State is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of nearly 17,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.
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