EMCC Lions gear up for week-long National College Finals Rodeo in Wyoming – Reuters
SCOOBA — For the second straight year, East Mississippi Community College will be represented by a school-record eight student-athletes at the upcoming College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. The week-long Collegiate Rodeo Championships will begin on Sunday (June 12) and run through the following Saturday (June 18) at Ford Wyoming Center.
Featuring three-time CNFR qualifiers Jaylie Matthews, Blair Bryant and Myles Neighbors, EMCC is expected to have entrants in five different events during this year’s national competition. With sister tandem Jaylie and Taycie Matthews competing individually in barrel racing and brothers Cooper and Cade Cowan pairing as a team, the Lions will also be represented by Bryant (breakaway roping) and Neighbors (steer wrestling) as well as the premiere both CNFR Qualifiers Clay Livengood and Tanner Brown in lashing rope.
Finish the regular season ranked 18the nationally among the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) rankings, the EMCC men’s and women’s teams narrowly missed qualifying as teams for the next CNFR after placing third in the classification of the Ozark region. The top two men’s and women’s teams as well as the top three student-athletes in nine individual events from each of the 11 NIRA regions earned the opportunity to compete in the national championships.
The EMCC women finished just 78.32 points behind reserve champion Missouri Valley College regional team. The University of West Alabama won the Ozark Region Women’s Regular Season Tag Team title with 2,977 total points, followed by MVC (2,403.32 pts) and EMCC (2,325 pts). Totaling 4,540 points throughout the season, the men of EMCC caught up at the end of the year but also finished third in the region behind reserve team champions UT Martin (5,145 pts) and the best nationally Missouri Valley (9,065 pts).
Again this year, Jaylie Matthews, the current No. 1-ranked barrel racer and reigning CNFR reserve champion, will be looking to pave the way for EMCC’s eight CNFR competitors. The eldest of the Matthews sisters, Jaylie won her second Ozark Region Barrel Racing Championship in three years by amassing a total of 1,225 points, the best NIRA this year. With her six regional event titles during the season, she has 13 career wins after earning three first-place finishes as the 2019-20 Ozark Region Champion and following that with four titles in her specialty event the last season.
Last year’s Ozark Region Barrel Racing Champion and Jaylie’s younger sister, Taycie, will also return to Wyoming for this year’s CNFR after placing third in the region’s standings. Ozark 2021-22 with two regional event titles this season.
The Matthews sisters, of Wynne, Ark., have now combined to claim 20 career victories in Ozark Region barrel racing since the 2019-20 rodeo season. Taycie won five times last year en route to winning the 2020-21 Ozark Region Barrel Racing Championship. After combining to win nine of the Ozark Region’s 10 regular season barrel races during the 2020-21 season, the sisters have combined to win eight of 10 regional titles this year.
Along with the Matthews sisters, Bryant also returns to the CNFR after being a valued member of the 2020-2021 EMCC team that won the school’s first-ever regular-season Ozark Region championship on the way. from collecting a better program, fourth place the team finished at last year’s national finals. The Hatchechubbee, Alabama native is tied for third in the Ozark Region breakaway standings this year after winning the regional title last year and tied for eighth in her event. of specialty at the CNFR 2021.
The veteran cowboy in EMCC’s five-man unit en route to Wyoming, Neighbors is also a three-time CNFR qualifier for the Lions. The Benton, Ark. product earned his second Ozark Area Steer Wrestling Championship in three years and finished second nationally with 975 total points. Neighbors was previously ranked as the No. 1 ranked steer wrestler in the NIRA two years ago before the coronavirus pandemic hit following his three straight regional wins to start the 2019-20 fall season. He has added a win in his specialty event in each of the past two seasons.
In addition to the Matthews sisters on the women’s side, the men of EMCC will also be present at the CNFR this year. The Cowan Brothers of Marshall Academy qualified for the National Team Stringing Championships after placing third in the Ozark Region regular season standings. Transfers from Northwest Mississippi Community College have won three straight regional titles this season, capping the fall with wins at Southern Arkansas and Murray State, then opening the spring roster with a win at Rodeo. hosted by EMCC at Meridian.
Rounding out head coach Morgan Goodrich’s collection of EMCC competitors heading into this year’s college national finals, first-time CNFR entrants Livengood and Brown finished tied for second. place of honors from the Ozark region with 535 points each in lashing rope. Livengood, of Cleveland, North Carolina, won regional event titles in West Alabama and Arkansas-Monticello, while Brown, out of Florence, prevailed at the Three Rivers Rodeo last spring.
This year’s College National Final Rodeo is set to air on ESPN3 with extensive live coverage beginning Tuesday, June 14, and continuing through Saturday night’s final. ESPN3 is available by downloading the ESPN app from the App Store or Google Play. ESPN3 is also available online at ESPN.com.
After three rounds of slack and performance competitions that run through Friday night (June 17), the top 12 qualified competitors from each of the nine events will advance to Saturday night’s championship round. Online results from this year’s CNFR should be available throughout the week at CNFR.com.
Featuring more than 400 college cowboys and cowgirls from four-year colleges and two-year junior colleges located across the country, the College National Finals Rodeo is where the NIRA crowns the champions of the championship each year. individual event in the saddle bronc, bareback riding, rope tie-down, steer wrestling, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tethering.