Cowboys Need Strong Finish at This Weekend’s Home Rodeo
It’s pretty simple: Win and you’re in. If not, only certain individuals are automatic qualifiers.
That is what the University of Wyoming men’s team is facing in the final Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) rodeo of the fall and spring seasons this weekend. UW hosts its own Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo May 3-5 at the Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena.
If the Cowboys win their own home rodeo, they should qualify as a team to college rodeo’s biggest event -- the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) -- at the Casper Events Center in June. Only the top two CRMR teams gain automatic bids. However, individuals who place in the top three in their respective regional events also can qualify for the CNFR.
Coach George Howard and his Pokes know the score and how many points they have to make up for the coveted second place. The UW men currently are third place in the region after falling out of the runner-up spot two weeks ago.
The Cowboys have to make up 245 points to overtake second-place Gillette College. The Pronghorns have 3,720 points through nine fall and spring rodeos while the Pokes have 3,475. Season-long leader Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) has all but wrapped up the CRMR title with 4,028.3 points on the year.
UW’s drive for a team position for the CNFR begins Friday, May 3, with slack starting at noon. Other performances are Friday at 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 4, at 1 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday’s short go is at 1 p.m. Cost for each performance is $5 and free for children 8 and under and UW students.
Just four UW men’s team members have solid chances to gain berths in the CNFR if the Cowboys don’t overtake Gillette College this weekend. Six competitors make up a full men’s team.
Defending national champion team roper Tyler Schnaufer, a Pueblo, Colo., senior, heads UW’s contingent in two events. He currently is third in the region in team roping with heeler partner Clayton Van Aken, a Descanso, Calif., junior. Schnaufer also is third in tie down roping, and is second in total individual all-around points.
The highest ranked UW Cowboy is junior Justin Moldaschel, from Stanton, Minn., ranked second in bareback riding. The fourth team member who has a good chance to qualify for the CNFR is bull rider Hunter Hoover, a sophomore from Ulysses, Kan. He is tied for third place in the event.
Despite falling on hard times this spring, the Cowgirls will send nearly a full team to the CNFR. Three Cowgirls are ranked among the top three in their respective individual events. Four women make up a full team.
After ending the fall season in first place, the UW women have struggled in all four spring rodeos. The Cowgirls have slipped to a distant third place with 2,117.5 points and trail runner-up Gillette College by 427.5 points. The Pronghorns have a good chance to win the overall regional title, trailing season-long leader Northeastern Junior College (NJC) by only 85 points. It will take a big weekend for the UW women to gain second place.
The Cowgirls have a good chance to have a two-time regional breakaway roping champion if things line up for Kaycee Nelson. The Buffalo, S.D., senior leads all CRMR ropers and holds a commanding 135-point advantage over teammate Lydia Coe, a Salinas, Calif., senior.
The third Cowgirl ranked highly in her specialty event is Chandler Markel in barrel racing. The Scottsbluff, Neb., freshman was the regional leader at the end of the fall season but, like her Cowgirl teammates, has struggled down the stretch.