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UW's Steffes Leads National Goat Tying Lead After One Round

June 15, 2009
Nikki Steffes

Halfway through Monday's College National Finals Rodeo slack competition, the University of Wyoming Cowgirls team appeared to be struggling to even stay in competition. Then the goats came into the house.

UW's senior trio of Nikki Steffes, TaNaye Carroll and Sarah Mulholland set the early pace in the competition as they came away with fast times to all move into the goat tying's top tier.

All three put early pressure on the rest of the field. Steffes was up first in the competition while Carroll and Mulholland were sixth and seventh, respectively. Coach George Howard liked the draw because he wants the rest of the field to chase his team members.

"I thought it was a good way to look at it. I think coming in, it could seem a little strange for us. All three of us got it done and the rest have to come get us now," Carroll, a senior from La Junta, Colo., said. "I think definitely, Nikki being first right now, puts a lot of pressure on all the goat tyers."

Steffes, a senior from Vale, S.D., is used to putting pressure on the field after entering the CNFR's short go the past two years in first place. She's been the national runner-up both seasons.

As this week's first goat tying competitor, Steffes proved that she has to be considered a contender for the third straight season. She had a clean run and recorded the day's fastest time at 6.3 seconds. It really didn't bother her to be the first competitor up because she's been here all four seasons.

"It felt really good and I felt I could have gotten off my horse a little earlier, but I'm not going to complain. It's a good way to start the week," Steffes said. "I really don't remember my run in my mind. I was pretty focused on the moment. It worked and that's the main thing."

A few minutes later, Carroll had another clean run with her 7.2-second effort to leave her tied for 11th place overall. And immediately following, Mulholland was even better, clocking in at 7-flat, tied for seventh place.

After struggling the past couple of seasons in this competition at the CNFR, Mulholland was just glad to get a time in.

"I have a time. I'm happy. It's the first time in four years," Mulholland, a senior from Richland Center, Wis., said with a chuckle outside the arena. "The difference this year is that I've finally made a good run. I really didn't want to think about the past. I just had some freak things happen to me before."

Steffes was the busiest UW competitor Monday, competing in all three women's events.

Earlier, Steffes completed three sharp turns in the barrel racing competition -- about 15 minutes into Monday morning's slack competition. Her time of 14.63 seconds put her 10th overall after the first round of competition.

"After the first round last year I was 26th, so this is way better," she said smiling.

Steffes' chances of staying in the breakaway average improved on her second attempt. Everything was in place for a clean run when the calf ran straight, broke slightly to the left, but Steffes' horse, "Doc" stayed on him as the Cowgirl managed to stop the clock in 3.4 seconds for a two-head time of 15.1. She is seventh in the average after two rounds of competition. Steffes also is a threat in the all-around competition, which she won two years ago.

After moving into breakaway roping's top 10 the day before, Mulholland's chances of making Saturday's short go all but ended when she missed on her second run during Monday's slack.

The calf broke out of the box cleanly, running a straight line, but just as the senior was ready to let go of her rope, the calf ducked sharply to the left.

Cowboy Jason Hubbard has to be either the toughest competitor at the CNFR or a glutton for punishment. The agricultural education senior from Wheatland came into the competition with a badly separated right shoulder -- the same side that he flings his loop in tie down roping.

Hubbard was involved in a vehicle accident earlier this month near Elk Mountain, but has gutted it out as he attempts to compete in his final CNFR. But the pain was evident as Hubbard failed to tie his calf in the required 25-second time allowed.

Coming into the arena, Hubbard's injured shoulder hung much lower than his good side. He roped left-handed, something he's never done during his four-year collegiate career. Even though he's a natural southpaw, he ropes with his right hand.

Hubbard was slow getting his loop off and on the dismount he tried to grab the rope one-handed on the tied calf, but the rope whipped across his face, putting a long burn from his left ear to the bottom of his chin. He had trouble lifting the calf as the pain on his face was noticeable, struggling to tie the three legs as time ran out.

"The one that ain't broke failed me," Hubbard said explaining how he couldn't grab the rope as he ran toward the calf who scooted away from him. "It can't get any worse than this. It's pretty tough and it dang sure hurts, but I'll be back tomorrow morning chasing another one. I ain't lying, this injury is really hampering me.

The UW men have a pair of team roping teams competing this week.

Regional champions Tyler Viles, a finance senior from Cody, and partner Jared Bilby of Eastern Wyoming College put themselves in contention with a 12.4-second effort. Viles got his loop around the steer's horns, but Bilby only managed to tie one leg, giving the pair a five-second penalty. They are in 14th place at the end of the first round.

The duo of Chad Nelson, an agricultural business senior from Buffalo, S.D., and team roping partner Beau Miller from Gillette College had a time of 24.5 seconds. As the header, Nelson did his job, but Miller failed to get his loop around the steer's heels. He had to rebuild his loop for a second chance. The pair is in 23rd place.

Troy Brandemuehl had a good shot at a decent steer wrestling time, but he slipped over the horns after dismounting his horse. The biology senior from Gordon, Neb., scrambled to his feet and grabbed the steer again, but couldn't get a good grip as a struggled to turn the animal over leaving him with a double-digit time of 16.9 seconds.

It was another tough day for bareback rider Bucky Dickson. The Sequim, Wash., sophomore missed out, failing to mark when his heels were not above "Tomcat's" shoulders exiting the chute. The day before Dickson scored just 58.5 points on his first ride.

Posted on Monday, June 15, 2009

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