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Rasmussen Captures National Championship in Goat Tying, Moeykens finishes as reserve champion in barrel racing

When Paige Rasmussen needed it the most she came up with the performance of her life for the Montana State Rodeo team on Saturday night at the 2023 College Rodeo National Finals in Casper, Wyoming.

Rasmussen posted a 6.0 run in the Championship Go of the goat tying, her best run of the week and just enough for the Bobcat senior to claim her second College Rodeo National Finals Championship, and her first in an individual event. She also claimed all-around honors in 2021.

"That performance is the way Paige should go out," said Montana State coach Kyle Whitaker. "In her last college run she was great. She had a great career, she's a great person, and she deserves that."

Rasmussen, who nearly captured a national title last year but lost the opportunity when her goat stood up, capped her legendary career with an amazingly consistent week. She marked times of 6.2, 6.0, and 6.1 in the three long go-rounds, before Saturday's 6.0, the best time in the Championship Go. Including all-around titles, Rasmussen claimed MSU's 10th women's national championship, and the fourth in goat tying. She joins Kate Sharon in 2011, Lana Tibbets in 1992, and Karen Coleman Miller in 1964.

Montana State narrowly missed a second individual champion on Saturday. Three Forks High School graduate Tayla Moeykens won the Championship Go with a 13.84 run in barrel racing, but Taycie Matthews of West Alabama clocked a 13.94 to grab the national title. That also boosted her team to the women's national championship, just ahead of Montana State.

The night wasn't all triumph for the Bobacts. Trave Johnson recorded a 5.3 and Bode Spring 5.5 in the steer wrestling, but Mike Nannini (9.7) and Jaden Whitman (no time) each ran into difficult livestock situations. "We probably could have drawn better steers," Whitaker said. "Trav and Jaden are freshmen, this will make them hungrier, and Bode did good. It's just unfortunate." Spring took a no score in the tie-down roping, and Cate Hepper did likewise in the breakaway roping.

Nothing, though, could dim the performances of Moeykens and Rasmussen. "Tayla even slid a little coming around the third barrel or she might have had enough to make it all up," Whitaker said. "She has an amazing horse (Yeti), and Tayla did a great job."

Whitaker said the feeling of watching his athletes prepare for a championship run was nothing like doing it himself during his own championship career. "It was a helpless feeling," he said of the moments before Rasmussen raced into Casper's Ford Wyoming Arena for her moment of destiny. "I was just thinking good thoughts for her. This is the perfect ending for her college career.

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