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CNFR: Saturday

McNeese State's Mia Manzanares completes her goat tying run during Saturday's championship round of the College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.

McNeese State’s Mia Manzanares was back in the headlines at the Casper Events Center on Saturday night; Colton Campbell from Fresno State was finally in the spotlight after four years.

Manzanares capped her second College National Finals Rodeo all-around championship with a winning performance in the goat tying. Campbell, meanwhile, won his first CNFR all-around title on the strength of one solid team roping run with partner Brushton Minton from West Hills College and four consistent runs in tie-down roping that saw him finish as the reserve champion in the event.

“This has been a goal of mine ever since I was a really little kid,” Campbell said. “So for it to actually happen is a dream come true. I’m just grateful for the amount of support I get from my family and friends and coaches.

“I absolutely expected to win (the all-around title). This was the plan from the beginning.”

Campbell placed fourth in team roping in 2016 and seventh last year, but had never found success in two events at the college finals until this past week. He opened his fourth college finals with a 10.7-second run in tie-down to finish just out of the money. He followed that with back-to-back fifth-place finishes and entered Saturday’s short go third in the average.

His 10.7-second run tied for his slowest of the week, but it was enough to vault him to No. 2 in the average. And, combined with his and Minton’s third-place finish in the third go-round of team roping, it was enough for him to overtake Northwest College’s Caleb McMillan for the all-around title.

Despite knowing he was in position to win the all-around saddle and buckle entering Saturday’s short go, Campbell remained calm.

“I don’t get nervous really,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to compete in some big rodeos … I just try to do my best every time.”

Like Campbell, Manzanares once again demonstrated her ability to rise to the challenge.

Last year, the Opelousas, Louisiana, native won the goat tying, breakaway roping and all-around championships and single-handedly led McNeese State to the team title. This year, Manzanares overcame a rough start in breakaway — tying for first in the third go with a 2.2 after an 11.7 in her first run followed by a no-time — with a consistent showing in goat tying to win back-to-back all-around titles.

The 322.5 points Manzanares earned — 252.5 in goat tying and 70.0 in breakaway — would have been enough to give McNeese State a runner-up finish behind the College of Southern Idaho (370.0 points) in the team race. But this year Manzanares had help as teammates Kati Murphy and Ashleigh Young combined for 140 points in goat tying to clinch the second team title in program history for McNeese State.

In the men’s team race, Panola Junior College won its first championship, finishing with 825.0 points to top runner-up Hill College (675.0) and Clarendon College (660.0).

Panola’s Daylon Swearingen, who is currently No. 23 in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull riding standings, won the bull riding and Tyler Johnson finished as the runner-up in bareback bronc riding to lead the charge.

Swearingen entered the short go trailing Sheridan College freshman Coby Johnson, who was the only rider to cover all of his first three bulls. But Swearingen scored 76.0 points on Vold Rodeo Company’s Landslide to put the pressure on Johnson. And when Johnson was unable to make the 8-second buzzer on Frontier Rodeo’s Show Ring, Swearingen had his national championship.

Panola also got points from saddle bronc rider Logan Cook, bull rider Ross Freeman, team roper Clayton Lowry and tie-down roper Macon Murphy to end Panhandle State’s two-year reign as national champs.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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