UW’s Schnaufer Eyes Team Roping Title at CNFR
University of Wyoming team member Tyler Schnaufer can remember when he first started roping with partner Shay Carroll. The exact rodeo has long faded from memory because the duo has been roping together for 14 years.
Schnaufer, rangeland ecology and watershed management junior from Pueblo, Colo., first roped with Carroll, a Northeastern Junior College sophomore, as 8-year-old Little Britches Rodeo participants in Colorado.
"Our parents got together and talked. They thought we should rope together and we started team roping together the next year," says Schnaufer, who was relaxing Friday on a rare day off from the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper this week. "Shay and I have stuck together ever since."
The pair have roped their way to the CNFR's championship round Saturday night in the Casper Events Center. Going into Friday night's final performance to end three rounds of competition, the Schnaufer/Carroll team was third in the average, just six-tenths of a second off the leader's time.
Having the same partner all these years has contributed to his personal success, the soft-spoken Schnaufer says. They were successful on the junior circuit and then won the Colorado High School Rodeo team roping title when Schnaufer was a sophomore and Carroll just a freshman. They qualified for the national high school finals three times -- did well, but never won a national title.
That's the duo's goal -- to win a national team roping championship on collegiate rodeo's biggest stage.
And it will be their last together as collegiate partners.
As a header, Schnaufer, who transferred from Lamar Community College, will complete his senior year next season at UW, while Carroll will take his heeling talents to Stephenville, Texas, to rope for Tarleton State University. The pair didn't place in last year's CNFR, but won the regional title this season.
"We've been roping together for such a long time that we really trust each other out there," Schnaufer laments. "We've gotten lots of practice time in together."
That includes this week as they prepared for their final run together on the collegiate level.
"Shoot, I bet we've been to dang near 10 rodeos the last two weeks leading up to the CNFR," Schnaufer says.
But the end of the CNFR Saturday night doesn't mean the end of their team roping partnership.
The two will continue to hit the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit during the off-season and whenever they can during the collegiate season.
And when the fall season begins, Schnaufer will turn to UW teammate Clayton Van Aken as his new team roping partner. Schnaufer says he couldn't ask for a better heeler -- other than Carroll -- in Van Aken.
The Descanso, Calif., sophomore placed third at last year's CNFR as a freshman, and led the region at the break last fall. But his partner was ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season. Van Aken's and his new partner never quite settled in during the spring season, leaving the pair out of the running for a trip to the college finals.
However, Van Aken, who won the regional tie down roping competition this season, is fourth in the average entering Friday night's final CNFR performance and will compete in the final round.
"Everything will work out. It won't be too different having a new partner next season," Schnaufer says. "I'll be doing the same thing for Clayton as I did for Shay. Clayton is a good roper."
But right now, Schnaufer just wants to concentrate on his and Shay's final run Saturday night.
"We've had a good week. We've drawn some good steers. They've been pretty good and have been on the stronger end. We've made some smart runs," he says.
Schnaufer adds their game plan is the same as it has been the last 14 years going into any championship round.
""We'll stay with our deal, not do anything out of the ordinary and let everything take care of itself," he says. "Whatever happens happens."