CASPER, Wyo. — The 2015 College National Finals Rodeo has come to a close. At the end of three preliminary rounds and the finals the men’s national champion team is Tarleton State University with 915 points, and the women’s national champion team is Blue Mountain Community College with 517.5 points.
The Bulldogs of Montana Western had good showings from both the men’s and women’s teams. The men finished in 16th place with 295 points and the women finished in 18th with 115 points.
The women got out of the gates quickly as Tess Turk found early success in breakaway roping. Turk posted a time of 2.1 seconds in the first go, fast enough for a first place tie in the round, earning 75 team points. In the next two rounds, Turk’s rope fell short. Turk also competed in the goat tying event, and clocking qualifying round times 7.2, 6.8 and 8.0 seconds. Turk finished the three rounds in 14th place, two spots out of the finals.
Other competitors for the Montana Western women were Connlee Gray and Justinn Marshall. Gray completed three clean barrel racing runs with times of 15.19 seconds, 14.61 seconds and 14.45 seconds. Gray earned at 26th place finish in her first CNFR. Marshall’s first round run in goat tying did not result in a qualified time. Marshall recovered to place fifth in the second round with a time of 6.5 seconds, earning 40 team points. In Marshall’s final appearance at the CNFR she recorded a time of 8.0 seconds.
The Montana Western men’s team was led by senior Kane Cartwright. Cartwright competed in two events at the CNFR, steer wrestling and team roping. In steer wrestling, Cartwright did not record a time in his first two rounds, but bounced back strong to win the third round with a time of 4.1 seconds, scoring 80 team points.
Cartwright competed with Bulldog teammate Holden Garrison in the team roping, and the duo clocked runs of 6.6 and 7.3 seconds in the first two rounds. Despite a miss in the third round, the duo qualified for the finals and finished 10th in the final standings.
Cartwright’s two event total of 100 points earned him eighth place in the men’s all-around competition.
Newt Novich scored qualifying rounds in all three of his attempts in steer wrestling. Novich had times of 5.4, 6.9 and 13.1 seconds, good enough to qualify for the finals. In the finals, Novich clocked an 8.7 second run to finish fourth in the nation.
Tyler Friend opened the CNFR with a 56 point ride in the first round of saddle bronc. In both the second and third rounds, Friend was bested by the stock.
Senior bareback rider J2 Bridges finished his collegiate career with scores of 71.5, 64 and 66 points to finish 21st in the bareback competition.
Phil Shields, the Big Sky Region men’s all-around champion, did not post qualifying rides in the first round of bull riding or saddle bronc. Shields bounced back to win the second round of saddle bronc by scoring a 74.5, earning 80 team points. The go round win was Shield’s only qualified ride of the 2015 CNFR.
Ian Austiguy, competing with a partner from Montana State University in team roping, recorded a time of 12.2 seconds in the second round.
It was a very successful season for both the men’s and women’s rodeo teams, which finished first and second respectively in the Big Sky Region. The future looks bright for the rodeo teams at Montana Western as five of the ten CNFR competitors will return to school this fall, including the Big Sky Region men’s all-around champion Phil Shields and CNFR finals competitor Tess Turk.
— Montana Western Sports Information