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CNFR Kicks Off in Casper: Nearly 40 rodeo athletes to represent Central Rocky Mountain Region at this year’s finals

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On June 9, the nation’s top collegiate rodeo athletes will gather for a week’s worth of highly-competitive rodeo during the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper. 

Among the hundreds competing for a prestigious national champion title are nearly 40 athletes representing the Central Rocky Mountain Region. 

Finishing first in their region, the University of Wyoming’s (UW) men’s rodeo team will enter the finals in the 11th slot in the national standings, followed by Gillette College in 18th and Casper College in 20th

Gillette College’s women’s team finished first in the Central Rocky Mountain Region, with a sixth-place ranking in the nation, while the UW women’s team is ranked 14th.

Wyoming women

A dozen women will represent the Central Rocky Mountain Region and the state of Wyoming during this year’s CNFR. 

Haiden Thompson, a Yoder native representing Gillette College, finished the regular season as the Central Rocky Mountain Region’s All-Around Cowgirl and is ranked second in the women’s all-around national standings. 

Thompson will make a showing in three events at the 2024 CNFR – barrel racing, goat tying and team roping. 

Fellow Gillette College Cowgirl and Gillette native Ashlyn Goven will also compete in barrel racing, while teammate Staheli Adams of Cedar City, Utah will make a showing in the breakaway roping. 

Wearing the gold and navy vest of Laramie County Community College (LCCC), Rayne Grant of Wheatland will compete in both barrel racing and breakaway roping, while Kassidy Dunagan of Whitehall, Mont. will represent the Golden Eagles in goat tying. 

UW Cowgirl Kenna McNeill of Hobbs, Mont. will represent the Pokes in barrel racing, while Olivia Lay of Elbert, Colo.; Landry Haugen of Sturgis, S.D. and Jordyn McNamee of Cheyenne will don their brown and gold for the breakaway roping. 

Additionally, UW Cowgirl Riata Day of Fleming, Colo. will compete in goat tying. 

Gillette native Raelee Caldwell, representing Eastern Wyoming College, will also make a showing in the goat tying finals. 

Rough stock athletes

Rough stock events at the 2024 CNFR will show off the talents of the Central Rocky Mountain Region’s rodeo athletes as well. 

Gillette College Cowboy Thayne Elshere of Sturgis, S.D. will enter this year’s finals as the Central Rocky Mountain Region’s All-Around Cowboy, ranked 16th in the nation, and will compete in both saddle bronc and bull riding.

Three Casper College cowboys – Talon Elshere and Eastan West, both from Hereford, S.D., as well as James Perrin of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Canada – will also make an appearance in saddle bronc riding. 

Fellow Casper College Bronc Rider Chase Siemens of Chetwynd, British Columbia, Canada will join Gillette College’s Cooper Filipek of New Underwood, S.D. and UW Cowboy Colton Farrow of Greybull in the bareback riding finals. 

Wyatt Phelps of  Pinedale and Emmit Ty Ross of Jackson will respectfully represent Sheridan College and UW in the bull riding. 

Ropers and wrestlers

Sixteen of the region’s best will take a shot at a national champion title in two roping events during the 2024 CNFR. 

UW’s Bodie Mattson of Sturgis, S.D.; Gillette College’s Ty Moser of Volga, S.D. and  Northeastern Junior College’s Tate Talkington of Scottsbluff, Neb. will compete in tie down roping. 

Mattson will also make an appearance in the team roping with partner Roan Weil, a Casper College cowboy hailing from Kersey, Colo. 

Roan’s brother and fellow Casper College Cowboy Rowdy Weil will rope alongside Gillette College’s Tel Sorenson of Watford City, N.D., while partners Trevor Sorge, a Gillette College cowboy from Garrison, N.D., and Quincy Reynolds, a Gillette native representing UW, will also vie for championship honors. 

Other team ropers representing the Central Rocky Mountain Region include UW’s Rio Nutter of Rapid City, S.D. with partner Reece Wadhams, an LCCC athlete from Pueblo, Colo.; Gillette native and UW Cowboy Weston Mills with partner Coy Johnson, a Gillette College cowboy hailing from Buffalo, and fellow Gillette College athlete Haiden Thompson roping with Otero College representative Brayden Fillmore of Penrose, Colo.

Three UW steer wrestlers round out the list of the region’s impressive student athletes participating in the 2024 CNFR, including David Gallager of Brighton, Colo.; Cam Jensen of Hyannis, Neb. and Kaden Berger of Saratoga. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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