College National Finals Rodeo

Southern Arkansas' Loni Pearce clears with a time of 6.3 seconds in the goat tying event during the first performance of the College National Finals Rodeo on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, at the Casper Events Center in Casper. (Ryan Dorgan, Star-Tribune)

Loni Pearce is no stranger to the College National Finals Rodeo.

This year marks her fifth time competing for a national championship, which she’s still seeking despite failing to take one home from the Casper Events Center thus far.

But she feels like this year – her last – is the one she’s going to finally win.

Pearce’s goat tie of 6.9 seconds left her in 16th place after the first go round on Monday.

“Every time, my first round, I kind of have a little bobble and know I need to make up some times,” she said.

She had two opportunities to move up the standings on Tuesday, starting with her second go during slack.

Pearce drew a big goat and said she decided to go after it as quick as possible. She won the go in 6.2 seconds.

“I knew I didn’t have anything to lose,” she said.

Her third go was during Tuesday night’s opening performance round and she stuck with the same mentality she began the day with.

Pearce was just shy of tying her time from earlier in the day, but still tied the goat in 6.3 seconds. So far, she has the best time in the third go and the top average score of all goat tyers.

The South Arkansas goat tyer, who has already graduated with a Masters of Science in Agriculture, will most likely get her shot at winning a national title during Saturday’s short go. And after competing in front of a large crowd on Tuesday, she’s looking forward to the opportunity.

“(The crowd) gets me pumped up, she said, “It makes a difference, that’s for sure.”

Tie down roping: Garrison Cannon also was happy to be in front of a crowd for Tuesday’s performance round, after struggling during the morning’s slack.

Cannon, a sophomore from Dixie State, finished the first go in a three-way tie for the lead after tying his calf in exactly 10 seconds.

That momentum, however, didn’t carry into Tuesday morning when Cannon didn’t record a time.

So he decided to make the most of his third go, because he didn’t know if he’d get another opportunity at the CNFR.

“It’s like, ‘You know what? -- It’s probably one of my last college finals, so just go at it, have fun and give the crowd a good view,’” Cannon said about his mentality before the third go.

Cannon ended up tying his calf in 7.9 seconds, which ties the best mark anyone has posted this week.

“It felt really wonderful just to have my horse square, to have everything come together, it was nice to have a good run,” he said.

Breakaway roping: Tamara Tunink was luckier than most of the ropers to perform their third go.

The junior from West Texas College didn't have the fastest time in the section, but her run of 3.4 seconds was enough to put her atop the average at 9.1 seconds.

Kirsten Smith of McNeese State has the best score of the third go so far, but finished her first two tries without a time.

Steer wrestling: Five of the 11 steer wrestlers who have attempted their third go finished with times.

Only three of those five have completed all three of their go-rounds.

Still, Montana Western’s Newt Novich sits atop the leaderboard with an average of 25.4 seconds. Novich’s third go of 13.1 seconds was more than the 12.3 seconds he combined for during his first two attempts.

Walla Walla Community College’s Tucker Wright finished in 5.9 seconds and has the best time so far in the third go.

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Follow sports reporter Chad Lindskog on Twitter @ChadLindskog


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