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College National Finals Rodeo called off due to COVID-19


Last updated 4/9/2020 at 7:33am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Jayne Keely and the Montana State University-Northern women's rodeo team had qualified for the 2020 College National Finals Rodeo in June. But, the CNFR has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement came from NIRA Wednesday afternoon.

The Montana State University-Northern women's rodeo team had qualified for the 2020 College National Finals Rodeo this June, based on points earned through the Big Sky Region's fall schedule.

But the Skylights won't get the chance to compete in Casper, Wyoming.

Wednesday, the governing body of college rodeo announced in a statement that the 2020 CNFR has been called off due to COVID-19.

"As everyone involved with this event can testify, this is not the outcome we were hoping for, but public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is our most important concern," the announcement states.

"We know that every student athlete, coach, school administrator, parent and fan grieves the loss of this special event. This is devastating for all of us, but mostly for the NIRA athletes. We share your grief. This is unprecedented. May we all heal, extend grace and recover to a better world."

The annual rodeo, which draws competitors from across the country to Casper, was set to run June 14-20. The event is a major economic boon to the Casper area. In 2013, for example, the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated rodeo visitors spend $8.1 million annually while in town. That includes $2.2 million on food and beverages and another $1.8 on shopping.

"We are devastated to be making this announcement," National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Commissioner Roger Walters said. "We wanted to be competing in Casper this summer, but we have to do the right thing to combat this pandemic and keep our contestants and the state of Wyoming safe."

The Skylights, of head coach Doug Kallenberger, had finished the fall season in second place in the Big Sky Region standings. And since the spring rodeo season was already canceled, that meant the team had qualified on points for the CNFR.

Nikenna Schauer, Jayne Keely and Kassidy Williams would have competed for Northern in Casper, while Kolby Kittson had earned a spot in the CNFR's saddle bronc competition for the Lights, as well.


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