Fresno State Team - 2016 Rodeo Nationals

Dias and Campbell lead Bulldoggers at College National Finals Rodeo

(June 20, 2016) — Freshman Brittany Dias (Hanford) and sophomore Colton Campbell (Klamath Falls, Oregon) led the Fresno State rodeo team with top-four individual finishes at the 68th annual College National Finals Rodeo, June 12 to 18, in Casper, Wyoming.

Dias’ reserve champion finish in women’s breakaway roping stood as the Bulldoggers’ highest-ever placing in the event and spurred the Fresno State to a 10th-place women’s team finish. She was also named the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Women’s Rookie of the Year for the overall and breakaway event and received a $2,250 scholarship.

Campbell finished fourth in the team roping healer event to help the Fresno State men’s team tie for 32nd overall. He and his horse, Nic-N-Pine, also received the 2016 NIRA / American Quarter Horse Association Horse of the Year award. The award was based on Campbell’s performance at the event, and the pair won a similar award at the high school rodeo national championship two years ago.

“To have two, top-four finishes was fantastic, and I was extremely proud of how all six of our athletes performed,” said Tony Branquinho, Fresno State rodeo head coach. “Brittany was never phased by how many thousands of people were in the stands. She rode very focused, got out of the barrier really well and used her head. Colton and his partner roped toe to toe with the best collegians. The first two steers they drew were really tough, but they hung in there and took care of business. The honor for his horse was equally impressive and the first for a West Coast rider in five years.”

Dias posted an 11.6-second combined time for the breakaway roping event’s four rounds for an overall score of 185 points.

She opened with times of 2.6, 2.5 and 4.1 seconds in her opening rounds on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, then posted her best time, 2.4 seconds, in Saturday’s short go final round. In the overall standings, her four-round combined time was only 0.7 seconds behind Kirbie Crouse, a sophomore from Missouri Valley College, who won the event with a 10.9-second combined time.

Dias was one of only three athletes to have three rounds under 3.0 seconds with Crouse and Marlee Malcom of West Alabama who placed eighth overall.

“I haven’t performed as well in the past at the high school and junior high school nationals,” said Dias, “so those experiences and working with Coach (Branquinho) have taught me it’s not about winning or losing, but having a positive attitude and trying to have fun. My teammates have been so supportive, and there was a point in the competition when Colton (Campbell) was in the chute next to me. He gave me a little pep talk and reminded me that you only have one chance to be a national champion. That was really encouraging and gave me extra confidence.”

Fresno State junior Cynthia Konda (Terra Bella) Konda finished 38th in the barrel racing standings with a 49.27-second combined time thanks to 14.65- and 14.55-second efforts in the opening two rounds. Senior Tegan Turner (Lemoore) also competed in the event but was forced to retire after her horse was hurt after the opening round.

Turner took 45th in the goat tying standings with a combined time of 14.1 seconds. She posted times of 7.3 and 6.8 seconds in the opening two rounds and no score in the third round.

Fresno State sophomore Jamie Giefer (Springville) also competed in the event in the breakaway category and tied for 47th place.

“Tegan had a great start, and would have made the short round if her goat hadn’t got up in the final round,” Branquinho said. “Cynthia had two great rounds to start and gave it all her all in the third round but hit a barrel that kept her from making the short round. Jamie had trouble with her first calf and took a no time. She took chances to still try and advance in the go-arounds, but couldn’t pull it off.”

In the men’s team roping evening, Colton Campbell and his event partner Lane Lowry of Cuesta Community College tallied a four-round average of 28.9 seconds for 105 points.

The pair opened with their best time of the competition, 6.6 seconds, then added times of 8.2 and 7.0 seconds in the remaining go rounds, and 7.1 seconds in the final short round.

“Last year I was one spot from qualifying for nationals so that was extra motivation to practice harder and qualify this year,” said Campbell. “I tried to do the best I could and try and win a national title. It was also really rewarding that my horse Nic-n-Pine won the horse of the year. My family and I have had him for 10 years and take a lot of pride in developing him.”

In the men’s steer wrestling competition, junior Dillon Hushour (Fairfield) placed 13th - eight places better than this pre-event national ranking - and missed advancing to the final evening’s short round by one place. His clocked a 4.8-second mark in the second round for his best time of the opening three rounds.

“Dillon had a little tough luck in first round when a steer hung his horn in his vest and that cost him a spot in the final,” said Branquinho. “That’s a freak happening, but he tried to rebound. He placed in the top six in the second round and did well on a steer on the third round that had been tough all week and came up just short.”

Campbell also competed in steer wrestling and ranked 26th with a combined time of 16.0 seconds. He posted times of 6.7 seconds in the second round, 9.3 seconds in the opening round and no score in the third round.

Complete results are available at http://www.collegerodeo.com/cnfr/cnfr-2016-results.

The Bulldoggers teams capped a successful year under the guidance of the first-year coach Branquinho, and ended the regular season ranked second and third, respectively, in the West Coast Region.

Branquinho joined the team last fall thanks to a gift of more than $300,000 over five years from Central Valley Rodeo Inc. that will also pay for equipment and facility improvements.

“I was proud of how our athletes were great ambassadors for the university at nationals and all season,” said Branquinho. “I received so many compliments from other coaches about their professionalism and positive personalities. We were the only college to have all six kids at the Special Olympics youth session the final day of nationals, so that says a lot about how they want to give back to the sport and community, especially on a day when several of them were competing against the nation’s best. They’re also hard-working in the classroom and helping to build a bright future for this team. Tegan and Cynthia are out of eligibility, but we’re hoping to fill their void with some talented newcomers in the fall.”

The Fresno State rodeo team dates back to 1946 and officially became a club in 1949 — the same year the first College National Finals Rodeo was held in San Francisco. Today, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association sponsors more than 100 college rodeos that include 3,500 student members and 137 universities.