CASPER, Wyo. (Susan Kanode, CNFR) – The window for a college rodeo athlete to earn a National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association championship is narrow. To earn more than one and back-to-back titles is a quest that few athletes ever accomplish.
Two of the champions at the 2021 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) put themselves in position to do that on Tuesday night at the Ford Wyoming Center. Fans watched Cole Franks, the reigning bareback and men’s all-around champion move to the top of the board in his signature event.
Franks won his previous titles for Clarendon College in Texas. He transferred to Missouri Valley College and with his 74-point ride on Tuesday night leads the overall standings with 235 points. He is ahead of his teammate, Ty Pope who has a total score of 233.5 on three rides.
In the bull riding, the lone rider to last eight seconds was the current champion, Tristan Hutchings from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. Hutchings grew up in Idaho, the same as his coach, C.J. Aragon. The decision to move to Texas to pursue an education was made easier knowing that Aragon knew where he came from.
Hutchings earned the championship here a year ago with a total score of 241.5 points. He has ridden two out of three bulls for a total of 167 points and is looking like a favorite to be back here to compete Saturday night for the championship. He is also competing here in the steer wrestling and if he is successful on his third steer could gain enough points to be in contention for the all-around championship.
There are three more performances that feature the third round of competition, Wednesday through Friday. Then the 12 contestants in each event with the highest total scores or fastest total times will advance to Saturday night’s championship round.
Get the latest equine news in the Rocky Mountain Region directly to your inbox twice a month!