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Image of Tyler Jones on horseback.
Congratulations, Tyler, on winning West Region's Rookie of the Year honors! Good luck as you compete in the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming!

Rookie of the Year Jones Heads to National Rodeo Finals

FRESNO — Fresno State freshman Tyler Jones looks to continue the Bulldoggers club rodeo team’s tradition at the College National Finals Rodeo when he competes in team roping in the header position at this year’s event, June 11 to June 17 in Casper, Wyoming.

Image of the Fresno State logo.Jones, an agricultural business major, earned his bid thanks to a third-place region ranking based on his collegiate performances from September through May. The Friant native was named the West Region Rookie of the Year after ranking top five regionally in the all-around (third), steer wrestling (fifth) and saddle bronc (fifth) events. He was No. 16 nationally in the all-around category.

Image of head coach Uhuru Adem.

Coach Uhuru Adem.

“Tyler Jones is a true local talent,” said Coach Uhuru Adem, a lecturer in animal sciences and agricultural education. “His abilities in the arena are outstanding to watch in several different events. I am excited for the future of that young man.”

Televised action of the event’s final five days starts Tuesday, June 13, on ESPN3.

The women’s team nearly garnered a College National Finals Rodeo bid after it finished third in the regional season rankings under the guidance of Adem, the West Region Coach of the Year. The top two automatic team qualifying spots went to Cal Poly (first place) and West Hills College (second place).

The Fresno State men’s team ranked sixth in the West Region standings.

Sophomore Ellie Hilvers owned Fresno State’s top women’s individual region ranking in barrel racing (sixth), and was followed in the event by senior Taylor Souza (eighth) and freshman Emma Jensen (10th).

Senior McKenna Wood also ranked top 10 in two events (breakaway roping, eighth; team roping header, ninth), as did senior Andrea Wilson (goat tying, eighth; team roping heeler, 10th).

Image of the Fresno State Rodeo Team.

“Our women’s team had some ups and downs this year and came up a bit short,” Adem said. “They all went out and competed every time they nodded their head, and I couldn’t ask for more. They’re all going to be something to watch out for in the next few years.”

In past national rodeo trips under Adem, the men’s team placed 13th in 2022, 27th in 2021 and 17th in 2019 (while the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Image of the College National Finals Rodeo. Individually, among the 14 previous men’s qualifiers since 2019, Colton Campbell won the all-around men’s national title in Adem’s first season as coach. Cole Dodds added reserve national champion honors in the all-around category in 2022 and a third-place finish in the team roping heeler category.

The women’s team placed nationally 19th last year, led by Maren Powers, who placed 13th in barrel racing. Fresno State also placed 10th in 2016 and 12th in 2015 in the women’s team standings and advanced teams both of those seasons after top-two regional placings.

Adem, a Fresno State alumnus, shares an additional link to the program’s College National Finals Rodeo tradition as a two-time, national finals saddle bronc qualifier. The program started in 1946 and officially became a club in 1949 — the same year the first national finals were held in San Francisco.

By Geoff Thurner.

Image of Tyler Jones, Coach Uhuru Adem, and Ellie Hilvers.

From left to right: Tyler Jones, Coach Uhuru Adem, and Ellie Hilvers.

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