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UW Men Set School Record in Opening Rodeo Win

September 12, 2011

The University of Wyoming men's rodeo team can no longer sneak up on people.

The UW Cowboys opened the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) fall season last weekend at Chadron (Neb.) State College in a major way, scoring a school-record 770 team points, eclipsing the 730-point mark set six years ago at Sheridan College.

This comes on the heels of UW's performance at last summer's College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, where the Cowboys pulled off a stunner by placing third overall with just a three-man team. UW Coach George Howard said last week, "I guess we upset some apple carts."

And he used that same quote again this week after his team's nearly 300-point margin of victory over runner-up Eastern Wyoming College of Torrington.

"We upset some apple carts again," Howard said. "Everybody did well. It was just a good weekend for us."

Heavily loaded with team ropers, UW scored 440 points alone in that single event, with all five Cowboys earning points.

Pueblo, Colo., native Tyler Schnaufer, who transferred to UW this fall from Lamar (Colo.) Community College, teamed with Northeastern Junior College's Shay Carroll to take the opening rodeo title. The pair is the CRMR defending team roping champions.

The Pokes have a young talented tandem in the national high school champion pair of Brit Ellerman of Fort Lupton, Colo., and Marcus Bannister of Brighton, Colo. The freshman ropers were third in the average in their first collegiate rodeo.

And the "veteran" duo of Kade Merritt of Eaton, Colo., and Clayton Van Aken of Descanso, Calif., placed fifth in the average. The pair placed third at last summer's CNFR.

Three of the team ropers also added major points in tie down roping. Van Aken was the runner-up in the average, while teammates Schnaufer and Ellerman, were fourth and sixth, respectively. Schnaufer also won the all-around title.

With the Cowboys relying heavily on ropers among the six-man team selected by Howard, it doesn't leave too many roughstock competitors on the roster. But freshman Hunter Hoover took advantage of the opportunity to place in bull riding. In his first collegiate start, the Ulysses, Kan., freshman marked on two bulls to place second in the average.

Three other UW Cowboys placed during the opening weekend, but their points did not count in the final team standings.

Gillette freshman Eric Gewecke placed second in saddle bronc riding; and steer wrestlers Cameron Trimber, Aledo, Texas, senior, and Eden sophomore Thomas Smith were fourth and sixth, respectively.

The young UW women's team also had a good opening rodeo, placing second overall. The Cowgirls scored points in two of three women's events to finish with 295 points, compared to 345 for first-place Northeastern Junior College of Sterling, Colo.

Just like their Cowboy counterparts, the Cowgirls' strength this season will be in roping. And it only took a pair of UW women to score all the team's points.

Defending CRMR breakaway roping champion Kaycee Nelson picked up where she left off. As the only Cowgirl CNFR qualifier a year ago, Nelson, a sophomore from Buffalo, S.D., won the opening round at Chadron State to take the average. She also scored third place points in the short go.

And Lander sophomore Heather Bregar came through in goat tying to place as runner-up in the average after splitting first in the opening round. She was fourth in the short go.

Just one other UW Cowgirl placed at Chadron State, but her points did not count in the team's overall production. Laramie senior Brooke Howard was third in the breakaway roping competition.

The UW rodeo teams' next competition is this weekend at Central Wyoming College in Riverton.

Click here for all the team and individual results from the Chadron State College rodeo.

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