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UW's TaNaye Carroll Boosts Cowgirls into CNFR Title Contention

June 20, 2008

No one wants to talk about it, not quite yet, but the University Wyoming Cowgirls have to be taken seriously as national title contenders once again.

TaNaye Carroll boosted the Cowgirls' chances to repeat as College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) champions Thursday night with a clutch 6.5-second time in goat tying in the Casper Events Center.

The junior from La Junta, Colo., saved her best tie of the week to accumulate a three-round time of 21.5 seconds that moved her to third in the average. Her latest run was the fourth-best time of the third round and gave the Cowgirls much-needed points.

That could give UW two women qualifiers for Saturday night's short go round. Teammate Nikki Steffes needs one more good round Friday night in the event. She needs just a sub-seven second time to become the national leader in the event she placed second a year ago.

Steffes, the defending all-around national champion from Vale, S.D., also needs to wait one more night to see how high she will be sitting heading into the barrel racing short go. She currently is seventh in the standings.

The Cowgirls will have two women in breakaway roping as well, which should give them a realistic shot of winning back-to-back titles.

The standings didn't change from the night before, with the Cowgirls still in seventh place. However, UW could have the most women in the short go compared to those teams ahead of them.

"I think it will come down to Saturday's short go. We're just going to get there and each of us will make our runs and we will see how it turns out," Carroll said. "But we're not looking that far ahead right now."

Even UW Coach George Howard is being cautious about his team's chances.
"I'm more worried about those other teams. They have some opportunities also," he said referring to New Mexico State University, Texas Tech and Walla Walla Community College. "We're going to have to wait and see what happens on Saturday. It's going to be tight."

The Cowgirls could have five chances to score major points during the championship round if Steffes comes through as expected.

"I will feel a whole lot better if we can get that fifth one secured," Howard said. "I will feel more confident if I have five-for-five in there. Then we will have a good chance."

Carroll came out determined to make a good last run in goat tying. She said competitors never hold back to save their best run for last.

"You never plan it that way, it just happened to work out that way for me tonight," Carroll said about her first sub-seven second tie of the week. "I didn't know a whole lot about the goat I drew because he hasn't been out too much. And it helped that I have my good horse back again, too."

Carroll's trusty horse, "Sundance," has been out of action for two years because of various injuries. But she's back riding her best of the season.
"It's been a big change being on Sundance again and I'm back to my comfort zone," she said.

UW's Sarah Mulholland was bumped Thursday night from the top breakaway roping position. Natasha Parker of the University of West Alabama overtook the Richland Center, Wis., junior by just two-tenths of a second in the overall average. Carroll is fourth overall in the same event.

Two UW Cowboys stayed high in the average after Thursday's performance and are in line to reach Saturday's short go. Ellensburg, Wash., sophomore Jake Pratt is sitting fourth in the tie down average. And T.J. Teague, a Loveland, Colo., junior, and team roping partner, Quincy Opela of Eastern Wyoming College, are still fourth in the average.

Both Pratt and Teague have wrapped up their three rounds of competition and will wait one more day to see if they are bumped from their lofty positions.

It wasn't a good final performance Thursday for the team roping tandem Viles brothers of Cody. Tyler, a junior, and Justin, a graduate student who was granted another year of competition because he was last season's regional student director, had another no-time. They caught just one steer at the CNFR, during the second round in 6.3 seconds.

The other Cowboy scheduled to compete Thursday night was Neil DeZort. But the Kalispell, Mont., sophomore turned out in the bareback competition because of lingering shoulder problems.DeZort suffered his sixth separated shoulder -- that first plagued him at last year's CNFR -- earlier in the week and did not compete in the final two rounds. He was bucked off his only ride. DeZort will have surgery at the end of the month.

The third round of competition ends Friday evening.

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