Kyley Campbell riding to the finish
Town Crier News Staff
Kyley Campbell of Black Oak will be loading up her horse, Ote, and traveling across country to Casper, Wy., for her first appearance in the College National Finals Rodeo.
Kyley, daughter of Buster and Linda Campbell, will be a senior at Arkansas State University. She, along with her sister Katey, are members of the ASU Rodeo Club.
Kyley had a great year and qualified for the 66th CNFR (College National Finals Rodeo). The CNFR is referred to as the "Rose Bowl" of college rodeo. The NIRA crowns individual event champions in saddle bronc riding, bare back riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying.
Kyley competes in the barrel racing event. She has competed in this event as far back as she can remember. She qualified for two appearances in the High School National Finals Rodeo which is a family tradition started by her mother during her high school years. Also qualifying and riding in the High School National Finals Rodeo are her sisters, Kristy Wilson and Katey Campbell, and niece, Kensley Wilson.
Kyley is the first in the family to get to the college finals.
Over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges compete in Casper each year. Contestants compete all year in one of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Associations (NIRA) 11 regions for the opportunity to compete at the CNFR. The top three in each event and top two men's and women's teams from the 11 regions qualify for the college finals.
Kyley and Katey are in the Ozark Region which encompasses several states. They compete in five rodeos in the spring and five in the fall.
Kyley finished first in the Ozark Region and is third in the national standings with 1,020.00 points.
Competing at the college level takes the girls farther than high school level. Among the states in the Ozark Region are as far away as Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri. They will compete against an average of 100 riders at each event. The events start on Thursday and Friday with about 10 finalists making it to Saturday performances.
"Sometimes you can drive six hours and knock a barrel over at first and have to drive home," Kyley said. "It can be disappointing."
Kyley has had a good year and made the finials eight of her 10 performances this year.
Katey graduated from ASU this year with a bachelor's degree but will be going to graduate school giving her another year to be part of the ASU Rodeo Club. Their niece, Kenzley, will be going to University of Tennesse Martin on a rodeo scholarship which will put her in the Ozark Region, also.
ASU has a rodeo booster club led by Jo Sandborn. She heads the booster club and does a lot for the college riders.
"The club helps us raise money to assist with entry fees and gas expense," Kyley said. "We also have good sponsors."
One of the changes from high school to college is the fact family members can't always make the rodeos. Katey and Kyley said they have been fortunate and had minimum problems. They did come home on three tires from Troy, Ala.
"Usually there are several rodeo people traveling to the same event and anyone pulling a horse trailer never passes up a horse trailer on the side of the road," Kyley said.
Kyley said she was ahead all year then at her last rodeo she hit two barrels losing the lead. At the last run of the year she was tied with another rider from Murray, Ky. It was close as Kyley finished with 13.66 seconds and the other girl finished 13.67 seconds.
She is looking forward to competing and she and Katey will leave on Tuesday.
A college roping team from Cossatot Junior College and their coach will be traveling with them to Casper. The family will be joining them later.