CNFR Short Round Set: Moeykens Isn’t Backing off Matthews Sisters

CNFR barrel racing is underway in Casper. Keep up with results, stories and more.
Taycie Matthews College National Finals Rodeo barrel racing.
Taycie Matthews winning Round One of the 2023 CNFR on PopRocks. Image by Jackie Jensen.

The College National Finals Rodeo is underway in Casper, Wyoming, June 11-17, and the barrel racing is as exciting as fans have come to expect over the last few decades as top collegiate athletes from across the nation battle for the coveted national championship.

Royal Redemption: Sadie Wolaver and Princess Dominate 2022 College National Finals Rodeo Barrel Racing 

CNFR Round One Results

by Lauren Fritzler, Courtesy CNFR

Taycie Matthews, a junior at University of West Alabama, made her presence known in round one of the 2023 CNFR barrel racing competition.

The cowgirl from Wynne, Arkansas, led the pack in the first round of the barrel racing, with a time of 13.77-seconds. Her run was one of two in the opening round to break the 13-second barrier. Tayla Moeykens, the first barrel racer out, came in second with a time of 13.85-seconds, while Taycie’s sister, Jaylie Matthews, came in third, posting a time of 14.05-seconds. 

Matthews jockeys a 6-year-old mare, Fame Fire Rocks, also known as Poprocks. Jayli ran Poprocks last year at the CNFR, then handed her off to Taycie to ride during the 2022-2023 college rodeos. The sisters travel to the college rodeos together, establishing an amazing support system both in the stands and the arena. Their supportive parents flew in to watch them compete at the CNFR.  

Jaylie Matthews winning a go-round at the 2022 CNFR on “Pop Rocks.” Image by Jackie Jensen Photography.

“There’s a lot of competition in the rig,” Matthews said, “but we try to push each other and come out on top.”  

Matthews knows what it takes to compete in the Ford Wyoming Center. In 2022 at the CNFR, she ran a 13.86 to clock the fastest time of the event and finishing at reserve champion on the national stage. Matthews is determined to win this year’s championship after coming up short in the 2022 season. Her game plan is to keep the pace all the way to Saturday’s short round.

“The whole thing to the College Finals is to just be consistent,” Matthews said. “I want to make three clean, fast runs and do my best.”  

RD. 1 Rider School Time
1. Taycie G. MatthewsUWAL13.77 
2. Tayla A. MoeykensMTSU13.85 
3. Jaylie P. MatthewsUWAL14.05 
4. Abby L. HepperSWOKSU14.08 
5. Raven L. ClaggUWAL14.12 
6. Ellie A. BardGILLET14.14 
7. Jordan T. DriverTARLET14.25 
8. Emme C. NorsworthyUWY14.35 
9. Jayci L. BylerSAMSU14.37 
10. Kiara F. BegayUAZ14.4

CNFR Round Two Results

by Lauren Fritzler, Courtesy CNFR

Taycie Matthews and Fame Fire Rocks have showcased their consistency at the 2023 College National Finals Rodeo barrel racing. Her 13.74-second run placed her on top of the leaderboard in the second round of the barrel racing. She is now sitting No. 1 in the overall standings with a total time of 27.51-seconds on two runs.

Taycie’s flawless run during day two of barrel racing slack was trailed by Emme Norsworthy’s 13.96-second run. Third place in the round went to big sister Jaylie Matthews once again, posting a time of 14.03-seconds. Both siblings rodeo for University of West Alabama and Coach Daniel Poole.

Poprocks, Taycie’s six-year-old mare, is by Firewaterontherocks, the barrel racing stallion owned by Robyn Herring. Renowned trainer Janna Brown trained the mare, and mom Kim originally purchased PopRocks for herself, but her daughters quickly established a bond with the talented mare. She may look sweet, but Taycie used words like “sassy,” and “bossy,” to describe the dragon’s temperment.

Going into round three, Taycie Matthews is first in the overall standings for the CNFR barrel racing aggregate. Behind her is Jaylie with 28.08-seconds on two runs. In the third spot is Tayla Moeykens from Montana State University with 28.10 seconds on two.

With back-to-back CNFR barrel racing round wins at the 2023 CNFR, the top spot to the short round is the Arkansas native’s to take. Her third run is set for the performance on Thursday, June 15.

RD. 2 Rider School Time
1. Taycie G. MatthewsUWAL13.74 
2. Emme C. NorsworthyUWY13.96 
3. Jaylie P. MatthewsUWAL14.03 
4. Abby L. HepperSWOKSU14.14 
5. Raven L. ClaggUWAL14.18 
6. Emma J. RickeNEOKAM14.21 
7. Tayla A. MoeykensMTSU14.25 
8. Libby K. BergerSWOKSU14.29 
9. Jayci L. BylerSAMSU14.30 
10. Annie AlexanderNMSU14.4

CNFR Round Three Results

by Lauren Fritzler, courtesy CNFR

Tayla Moeykens and KN Fames Best Yet a.k.a. “Yeti”, clenched a win in the third round of barrel racing at the 2023 CNFR. Moeykens was hungry for victory Thusday night, stopping the clock at 13.91-seconds. Second place in the round was Tayci Matthews’ 14.08-second run. Sage Kohr from University of Wyoming landed in the No. 3 hole with a time of 14.09-seconds. 

“After my run on Thursday night, I have to say I was speechless,” Moeykens stated. “I was extremely proud of Yeti and grateful he gives me his heart every time.” 

Moeykens is a proven winner in the Ford Wyoming Center, this being her third trip to the CNFR. The Montana-native was the 2021 CNFR Champion Barrel Racer and finished top 10 in the nation during the 2022 CNFR. The twenty-one-year-old is a senior at Montana State University where she studies Business Marketing.  

Going into the short round, Taycie Matthews has a strong lead in the average, a total of 41.59-seconds on three runs over the course of the finals. Tayla Moeykens is second in the aggregate, with 42.01-seconds. Entering the short-go third overall is Jaylie Matthews, with 42.22-seconds on three.  

RD. 2 Rider School Time
1. Tayla A. MoeykensMTSU13.91
2. Taycie G. MatthewsUWAL14.08
3. Sage KohrUWY14.09
4. Abby L. HepperSWOKSU14.13 
5. Jaylie P. MatthewsUWAL14.14
6/7.Brooke L. KrolczykTXAMU14.17
6/7.Victoria E. ProcterTXAMU14.17
8. Bailey L. StuvaNEOKAM14.18

These are the top 12 barrel racers in Saturday’s short round, along with their aggregate on three runs.

1. Taycie Matthews, 41.59.

2. Tayla Moeykens, 42.01.

3. Jaylie Matthews, 42.22.

4. Abby Hepper, 42.35.

5. Emme Norsworthy, University of Wyoming, 42.59.

6. Raven Clegg, University of West Alabarm, 42.63.

7.  Jordan Driver, Tarleton State University, 43.18.

8. Annie Alexander, New Mexico State University, 43.20.

9. (tie) Kiersten Pettus, Central Arizona College and Gwyneth Cheyne, Blue Mountain Community College, 43.34.

11. Jayci Byler, Sam Houston State University, 43.35.

12. Ellie Bard, Gillette College, 43.42.