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Mulholland Takes Over National Goat Tying Lead From UW Teammate

June 16, 2009
Sarah Mulholland

A University of Wyoming Cowgirl is still the College National Finals Rodeo goat tying leader, but it's not Nikki Steffes. She's been replaced atop the leaderboard by teammate Sarah Mulholland.

After Tuesday's second slack round, Mulholland took advantage of the early performers' higher-than-normal times; especially to the overall leaders, to tie for the overall goat tying lead with a two-round time of 13.7 seconds. She recorded her best time of the week at 6.7 seconds, the fourth-best time of the second round.

She is tied with Central Wyoming College's Jessica Picchietti for the CNFR lead.

Mulholland entered the day sitting seventh, but took advantage of some frisky, jumping goats that caused contestants to scramble in attempt to tie them down. That caused two of her teammates -- Steffes and especially TaNaye Carroll -- to falter down the stretch. Steffes dropped to third in the average.

Mulholland had a steady run and then waited patiently near the fence, watching the final six women complete their turns.

"I ran at my goat harder this time and it just felt smoother than yesterday's run," the Richland Center, Wis., senior said. "She is not thinking about making Saturday's short go and is not putting too much emphasis on being the early national leader.

"I still have one more round to go before I can count on making it back," she said. "As you can see -- like in breakaway roping -- it really doesn't matter until the end or until you make it into the short round. But I am happy that I'm still in the running and I'm just trying to stay calm and be nonchalant about it."

She was referring to breakaway roping, where she had a no-time on her second attempt following a smooth first round.

Both Steffes and Carroll had the same reactions after their runs. They were down and left immediately after their performances.

Steffes, who held a slim lead entering the second run, came down the arena on her horse and dismounted cleanly, but as she ran up on the goat, the animal suddenly made a sharp move to the UW Cowgirl's left. Steffes lost some momentum and hurried to get the goat down. She faltered on the tie, leaving her with a 7.5-second mark. Her two-round time is a tenth of a second behind Mulholland at 13.8.

Carroll's chances of reaching the short go ended right after Mulholland made her successful run. The La Junta, Colo., senior tied hers in 7.8 seconds, but the goat kicked out of its tie.

Steffes had a rough morning competing in another event. She took a step back in barrel racing when she recorded 15.29 seconds as compared to a top-10 time of 14.63 the day before. Her two-run time is 29.92.

A visibly upset Steffes said a poor arena dirt floor led to her downfall when her horse, "Doc," stepped into a hole around the first and third barrels.

"The ground was really trashy. I felt my horse couldn't have done anything differently -- the ground just wasn't very good," she said. "There were just a lot of holes out there and my horse got stuck in a couple of them."

Merritt Smith sure looked like an old man walking gingerly with a noticeable hitch as he left the Casper Events Center arena after getting thrown off a wild bucking bronc.

But instead of showing pain, the UW Cowboy from Gillette had a big grin. He had just ridden "Spring Creek" to 74.5 points. With just one more ride Wednesday, the UW sophomore has a two-round score of 144.5 points, giving him a great shot of reaching Saturday's short go round. He was fifth in the round and sitting sixth in the average going into Tuesday's performance.

"I came off pretty rough on him and that's not the way you want to do it. It kind of sored me up and it looked kind of funny," Smith said behind the bucking chutes. He landed squarely on his behind after riding the bronc to the whistle. He was dumped awkwardly before the pickup men could reach him. "Definitely happy to have another one down and it went a little better, anyway."

Smith said "Spring Creek," usually a bareback horse, was added to the saddle bronc mix for Tuesday's slack competition.

"He was a really good horse. I was hoping that it was a good score and I thought I put everything together, but you never know what the judges kind of want to do. I was glad what they gave me," Smith said. "I can't complain about my first two rides. I've been riding alright and I couldn't ask for more."

UW team roper Chad Nelson and his partner, Beau Miller of Gillette College, remained in the average with their best round of the CNFR. They stopped the clock with a sub-10-second time of 9.7 seconds. That made up for a 24.7-second performance the day before. Their two-round time is 34.4, but that is deceiving as many other roping teams have recorded no-times.

"We kind of had to make up some time. We had to be a lot faster and we ended up with a clean run," Nelson, a Buffalo, S.D., senior, said. "If we rope our next steer smooth, we should be in the short go. There are a lot of teams going out of this right now, missing, and lot of teams going out of the average. We just got to rope smart and let the other teams mess up."

He is the younger brother of Kayla Nelson, who won back-to-back CNFR goat tying titles for UW in 2006 and 2007.

It was not a good slack morning for four UW teammates.

Wheatland senior Jason Hubbard gutted out his second tie down roping run Tuesday morning, recording a no-time when the loop slipped over the calf's head. He is roping left-handed because of a severely separated right shoulder suffered earlier this month in a vehicle accident.

Another Wheatland product, junior Kacy Hatten, had another no-time in breakaway roping.

Bulldogger Troy Brandemuehl had a tough second round in steer wrestling when he took a no-time to go along with a 16.9-second effort in the opening round. His steer broke to the left and the Gordon, Neb., senior had to play catch up. He had a good dismount and went for the pull, but slipped off the inside horn and the steer's head went out of his grasp.

Header Tyler Viles, a Cody senior, did his part in team roping, getting his loop around the steer's horns. But teammate Jared Bilby of Eastern Wyoming College missed the heels. He had to rebuild his loop, but missed on his second attempt, leaving the pair with a no-time.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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