Kitaif Wins RSCFR in His First Try

DAVIE, Fla. – Colt Kitaif hit the jackpot in his first RAM Southeastern Circuit Finals Rodeo as he won the first two rounds and the average title.

“It’s really exciting, and feels great,” said Kitaif, a permit holder who is a senior at Tennessee-Martin. “I’m very, very blessed. This is the biggest win I’ve ever had, for sure.”

Kitaif led former McNeese State teammate Winn Ratliff, who will compete at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo next month, by 14 points entering the final round Nov. 8. Ratliff won the third round to make it close, but Kitaif hung on to win by two points.

“Winn sure put on a good ride and I thought he might’ve won (the average),” Kitaif said. “After I won the second round, Winn came up and said I rode great and to keep doing it. That meant a lot coming from him.”
Kitaif said he slept well the night before the final round.

“Pressure is something you put on yourself,” he said. “I just nodded my head and tried to stay the same. I definitely knew the situation I was in.”

He was proud to beat Ratliff, who won the all-around title at the 2011 College National Finals Rodeo.

“I got to McNeese State when Winn was still there, and he qualified for the NFR that year (2012),” said Kitaif, 23, who is two years younger than Ratliff. “It felt pretty cool to go to school with a guy who went to the NFR.”

Ratliff finished ninth in the world in 2012, and is ninth this year going into the Wrangler NFR.

Kitaif won the first round Nov. 6 when he rode for 77 points on Smith, Harper & Morgan’s Walker. He rode for 82 points on Smith, Harper & Morgan’s Baby Doe to win Friday’s second round. He managed a 67-point ride Saturday, to win the three-head average with 226 points.

Defending RSCFR champion Jon Luse tied Tyler Waltz for third with 212 points.

Kitaif, from Tylertown, Miss., is a senior at Tennessee-Martin. He attended McNeese State in Lake Charles, La., before transferring, as did his younger brother Jack, who is also a senior at UT-Martin.

Kitaif competed at the RSCFR along with five of his UT-Martin teammates; they won the College National Finals Rodeo team title in June.

Team roping champs Ross Lowry and Stephen Britnell also won the RSCFR in 2010 and 2012, and bull rider Jacob O’Mara won the rodeo in 2010.

Other winners at the $126,603 rodeo were all-around cowboy Justin Thigpen ($3,797 in tie-down roping and steer wrestling), steer wrestler Juan Alcazar Jr. (15.2 seconds on three head), team ropers Lowry and Britnell (24.5 seconds on three head), saddle bronc rider Justin Caylor (232 points on three head), tie-down roper Tim Pharr (26.0 seconds on three head), barrel racer Victoria Williams (45.13 on three runs) and bull rider O’Mara (154 points on two head).

Courtesy of PRCA