National Rodeo Interview: Colton Campbell
In his College National Finals Rodeo debut, sophomore Colton Campbell (Klamath Falls, Oregon) finished fourth in the team roping healer event to help the Fresno State men’s team tie for 32nd overall in the event held June 12 to 18.
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 their performance at the event, and the pair won a similar award at the high school rodeo national championship two years ago.
This interview looks back on his week in Casper, Wyoming, after he ended the regular season as the region leader in steer wrestling and in the all-around standings.
Q: You had a great performance at the college rodeo nationals – talk about how your
performance and how it met your goals or expectations.
CC: “I tried to do the best I could and try and win a national title. I had been to the junior high and high school finals before, so I wasn’t nervous. I just did my best and let the cards fall where they may. It’s a pretty exciting atmosphere, and trying to win a national title is a big deal to many – maybe the next step below winning a world title.”
CC: “The coolest thing at nationals was that my horse Nic-n-Pine won the horse of the year, which is based on overall points earned at nationals. I’ve owned him for 10 years and rode him at junior and high school finals. My family and I take a lot of pride in developing him.”
Q: Take us through your performances at nationals (in team roping healer).
CC: “In the first round we had a good time of 6.6 that put us in the top 10. In the second round we were a little longer at 8.2 and that put us in the top 15 for average. The third round we were clocked at 7.1, so that put us back into the lead for average, and we ended up being seeded third going into the short round. We had a couple tougher steers, and I felt we did about the best that we could do.”
Q: Talk about your teammate in the team roping, Lane Lowry from Cuesta, and how you were selected to compete with him.
CC: “I was the next person in the standings. We were friends from before, so that was nice, and he qualified since his Cuesta team qualified. We hadn’t roped too much together but got up to speed pretty quickly.”
Q: What are your plans the next few months?
CC: “This summer I plan go to some pro rodeos, especially over the 4th of July for team and calf roping. The next week we will go to 10-12 rodeos and will go to two rodeos some days. The biggest will be in St. Paul, Oregon; Oakley, Utah; Cody, Wyoming; and Livingston, Montana, and I’ll be traveling with some friends.”
Q: What about next year – any additional events you'd like to try qualifying in for nationals?
CC: “If possible, I want to compete in the all-around as well as in calf roping.”
Q: How did you choose Fresno State, and how is it having Coach (Tony) Branquinho as your coach?
CC: “I chose Fresno State because my mom and uncle both went there, and it was one of the few that I applied to. It’s great to have Coach around at practice. He’s always enthusiastic and so positive. Having his experience has been very helpful in my development.”
Q: Take us through your regular season.
CC: “I had a better beginning of the rodeo season than last year, and we were top two after the fall rodeos so I thought there might be a chance to qualify. Last year I was one spot from qualifying for nationals so that was extra motivation to practice harder this year. I just tried to catch every steer and be more consistent. I probably improved the most in steer wrestling. I qualified for nationals in that, but didn’t have that good of a week. I was a little long on my first steer, 9.3 seconds, but was 6.7 on my second run. I missed him on the third, and got off a little too late and rushed him.”
Q: Brittany Dias (Fresno State teammate and breakaway reserve champion) mentioned that you gave her some inspiring words before one of her key runs.
CC: “I mentioned to her that my dad always tells me that you don’t have many chances to be a champion so you need to take advantage of the ones you get.”
Q: Any other highlights from nationals?
CC: “It was cool to see another team from our region, Feather River, win the men’s national title. We want to take our team there next year. We don’t lose anybody and have a few new kids coming in.”
Q: How was the drive up?
CC: “It was OK - I went up with another person from our region, Ryan Opie from Feather River, who is a friend from other competitions.”