Millward First UW CNFR Short Go Qualifier
It probably was not the best effort he has ever had, but University of Wyoming team roper Riley Millward will gladly take what is given to him.
Millward, a Jackson sophomore, and roping partner Dane Kissack of Gillette College, struggled on their third steer Tuesday night, suffering two penalties totaling 15 seconds. Their clean run of 8.1 seconds turned into a 23.1-second third-round performance at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper. However, only 12 teams prior to the first of five nightly performances had two successful runs. Millward and Kissack have three and their overall performance has vaulted them into Saturday night's short go with an accumulative time of 51.2.
"They can't go down in the standings now with only 12 teams getting two good ties. They can only go up from here on out in the standings," UW Coach George Howard said.
Millward has qualified for his first CNFR championship round in his first appearance in the year-end event.
Only one other UW team member competed Tuesday night. Laramie junior Ilene Choal finished her season with a 14.65-second time in barrel racing. She will not qualify for Saturday's finals.
Earlier in the day, team ropers Millward and Kissack recorded a time of 14.6 seconds after roping only one leg and were assessed a 5-second penalty for a two-round time of 28.1.
All nine UW rodeo team members earlier in the morning competed in the second slack section that saw highs and lows, with some good efforts that kept a few Cowboys and Cowgirls' hopes for a bid at Saturday night's short go.
Three Cowgirls completed their second barrel racing runs. Nikki Steffes, a senior from Vale, S.D., moved into the top 12 after the second go round with a 14.81 effort. She is 29.64 on two runs. A pair of juniors, and Josie Davison and Choal, both struggled and will miss out in a shot at the short round. Choal had her best run to date at 14.63, giving her a two-round total of 30.77, while Davison recorded a time of 15.18 for two runs of 35.85 seconds.
Steffes, whose points will not count toward the Cowgirls' team totals because she has used up her four-year eligibility but is granted another season as a regional student director, is back in contention for a goat tying title. She tied her goat in 6.3 seconds, giving her a two-head time of 13.6, moving her into the top seven.
Dana Weiser continued to struggle because of a hamstring injury, tying her goat in 8.9 seconds. She is 17.7 on two runs.
Steffes, who is going for her third CNFR all-around title in five years, stopped the breakaway roping clock in 3.4 seconds, moving her in the top five at 5.8 in the average. Weiser missed on her second attempt, putting the Wheatland junior out of the average.
UW's five team ropers had a busy day with all staying in the average. Less than half the team ropers have two good ropes giving the Cowboys a good shot at the finals.
Pavillion cousins Chance and Dahl Nicholls moved into the top eight with an 11.5 attempt for a two-head total of 24.4 seconds. They had a 5-second penalty on their second rope.
Gillette senior Beau Miller and partner Cole Dorenkamp of Gillette College also had a 5-second penalty when Dorenkamp roped only one leg and wound up with a 14.6 time. That made up for a miss in the opening round.
The region's top team, Jordan Steele, an Aladdin senior, and heeler Dustin Smith of Gillette College, missed in the second round. Their opening time of 8.8 seconds might be good enough to get them into the finals if they perform well in their final attempt later in the week.
The Cowboys' only roughstock competitor, saddle bronc rider Merritt Smith, stayed in contention after a second straight successful ride. The Gillette junior scored 75 points earlier in the morning and now has 147.5 points after two rounds.