2017 CNFR Champions Qualify for RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals

June 19, 2017

The future of professional rodeo was put on full display this past weekend in Casper, Wyoming. The 2017 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) brought together the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association‘s top athletes for the ultimate college rodeo face-off. Champions in each of the seven traditional rodeo events (tie-down, steer wrestling, saddle bronc, bareback, barrel racing, bull riding, and team roping) earned an exemption to RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals for a chance to compete in the world’s richest one-day rodeo, held at AT&T Stadium on Feb. 25 2018.

2017 RFD-TV’s The American Barrel Racing Champion Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday AKA “Sister” shook the ground as they flew past the finish line in the short-go, stopping the clock at 14.06 seconds. After four runs, Kinsel’s aggregate time was 57.89 seconds, making her the 2017 CNFR Barrel Racing Champion.

“She just stepped up to the plate so great,” Kinsel said in the back of the alley after her big win. “I’m really excited that I don’t have to go to a qualifier to get this horse qualified, cause I was looking at them [schedule of qualifiers] and they are so dang tough this year. I may try and get another qualification to the Semi-Finals.”

Last February Kinsel and Sister took home over $20,000 during RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals, but it was the shoot-out round of RFD-TV’s The American where she stole the show. Competing against Fallon Taylor, Mary Burger, and Sherry Cervi at the home of the Dallas Cowboys didn’t phase the Texas Aggie, as she and Sister claimed the 2017 Barrel Racing Champion title and check worth $433,333.

RFD-TV interviews 2017 CNFR Barrel Racing Champion, Hailey Kinsel.

Denver Berry, the son of Pro Rodeo Hall-of-Famer and four-time World Champion Steer Wrestler Ote Berry is making a run at filling his father’s shoes. The Southeastern Oklahoma State University student had an average of 19.8 seconds on four head in the steer wrestling to win the title and earn an exemption to Semi-Finals.

“I had a great week and a lot of good runs. Just a combination of three years and practice,” Berry said. “I had a lot of good guys in my corner to help me pull this out.”

2018 will be Berry’s second appearance at Semi-Finals, as he qualified for the 2017 event last October in Stigler, Oklahoma.

RFD-TV chat’s with 2017 CNFR Steer Wrestling Champion, Denver Berry.

Sam Houston State freshman Lane McGehee was crowned the 2017 CNFR Bareback Champion. McGehee won the first round with 80.5 points and the third round with 81.0 points. After four rounds, his average score came out to 314 points, putting him at the top of the leaderboard by 16 points.

Tarleton State University’s men’s rodeo team celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first national crown last week. Texas cowboy Reid Zapalac made the celebration even more special after being named the 2017 CNFR Tie-Down Roping Champion. Zapalac was 36.7 on four head for the win.

New Mexico Junior College sophomore Preston Burr was crowned the 2017 CNFR Saddle Bronc Champion. Burr took first place in Round 1 with 78.5 points to kick off the week. After three rounds and a short-go, the 5'9' Texas Cowboy came out with an average of 284.5 points on four head.

The number 6th ranked heeler in the world Wesley Thorp and header partner Cole Wheeler were crowned 2017 CNFR Team Roping Champions for the second year in a row. The Texas Tech University-Lubbock duo had an average time of 25.2 seconds on four head to take the title. 2018 will be the second year Thorp and Wheeler compete at RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals.

In the bull riding it was Hill College’s Cole Melancon to emerge victorious, with an average score of 161.5 points. This isn’t Melacon’s first time in the spotlight. Last year during RFD-TV’s The American Semi-Finals the Liberty, Texas cowboy went on a hot streak at Cowtown Coliseum. Now he’ll have the chance to come back and chase the $1,000,000 purse.

Click here to see a full list of results from the 2017 College National Finals Rodeo.

2017 CNFR Champions wish their father’s a happy Father’s Day following their winning performances in Casper, Wyoming.