Cal Poly Rodeo Team Advances to National Finals

Livermore resident Grant Peterson places second in steer wrestling

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Eleven members of Cal Poly’s Rodeo Team qualified to compete in the 72nd annual College National Finals Rodeo held June 11-19 in Casper, Wyoming, where one student-athlete came away with a second-place win: Grant Peterson, a second-year agricultural systems management major, placed second in the steer wrestling event.

Student-athletes who advanced to the finals are: Peterson, of Livermore, California, and regional champion Ethan Usher of Santa Ynez, California, in steer wrestling; Maggie Usher of Santa Ynez, California, and Hannah Steagall of Sanger, California, in goat tying; Karson Mebane of Bakersfield, California, and Quintin McWhorter of San Luis Obispo in saddle bronc riding; Cole Tart of San Luis Obispo in bareback riding; Kathryn Varian of Parkfield, California, and Kelsey Cadwell of Oakdale, California, in barrel racing; Jason Andersen of Salinas, California, in tie-down roping; and Tyree Cochrane of San Luis Obispo in team roping. 

“I’m extremely proud of these athletes, who faced a unique and difficult qualifying season due to COVID-19 impacts and competed as individuals at eight rodeos throughout California and Nevada to advance to the finals,” said Cal Poly Rodeo Coach Ben Londo.

The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) West Coast Region, which includes Cal Poly and seven additional teams, chose to allow rodeo student-athletes to compete as individuals versus teams at a series of events held at private facilities throughout California and Nevada, to allow them to gain the points needed to compete in the finals. The decision was made at NIRA’s regional level for all West Coast Region schools, providing a unified approach to the competitions, as some teams were not yet sanctioned to compete because of COVID-19 guidelines. 

Cal Poly Rodeo has a strong, successful history. The program sent six men to the inaugural College National Finals Rodeo in 1949. Since then, Cal Poly Rodeo’s student-athletes have gone on to win six national championships — more than any other school in the NIRA competition — and 44 national titles. The program is open to all Cal Poly students. 

About the College National Finals Rodeo

The College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), known as the Rose Bowl of national rodeo, is where the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) crowns individual event champions in saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying. National team championships are also awarded to men’s and women’s teams. More than 400 student-athletes from more than 100 universities and colleges compete in Casper each year. Contestants compete all year in one of the NIRA’s 11 regions for a chance to rope or ride at the CNFR.

About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, including organic and conventional crop land, orchards, vineyards, forests and rangeland, all of which provide the basis for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country with more than 4,100 undergraduate students. For more information visit

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