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June 17, 2013 — Kaycee Nelson couldn’t bear to watch. She had her back to the arena after briefly taking the national breakaway roping lead, and needed two other competitors to somehow falter down the stretch.
Only one did. The other continued her dominance in the event last Saturday night at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) to win the national breakaway roping title in the Casper Events Center.
An emotional Nelson wound up as the national runner-up.
The UW women finished 12th overall with 165 points. Idaho State University won with 520 points and Northeastern Junior College was the national runner-up with 490.
The UW men scored 170 points to finish 25th. Panhandle State University won with 820 points and College of Southern Idaho was second with 745.
Coming out of the No. 3 position, Nelson stopped the clock in 3.2 seconds to briefly take the overall lead in the average. Just two other competitors were left. Nelson couldn’t watch the other two ropers as she held onto her horse “Tuff” at the opposite side of the arena near the bucking chutes. She waited to hear the crowd’s reaction to learn her fate. It was a waiting game for the next few minutes.
“I was just shaking back there,” she said.
First up was Tiada Gray from Eastern New Mexico University, who was competing with a broken leg. Nelson caught the break she needed when Gray’s calf sharply broke to the left; Gray never got the chance to rope the calf.
“It was a little relief after Tiada’s run, but I knew Kim was up next and she had been phenomenal all week,” Nelson said.
Idaho State University’s Kimberlyn Fehringer was all that stood between Nelson and a breakaway roping title. The freshman had simply been dominant all week, building a large lead with a three-round time of 7.2 seconds. All she needed was a 4.5 to overtake Nelson.
She did it with a time of 2.5. The ISU roper also entered the CNFR as the overall national leader. There was a reason why; she was the only roper to get four straight sub-three-second times on four head this week.
“I tried. My calf was slower and, when I got out on him, I got my shot. I couldn’t have honestly done anything else,” Nelson said as her voice cracked. “I’m just grateful to be able to make it back to the short go and be second in the nation. It’s a huge personal accomplishment for me.”
Fehringer finished with a four-head time of 9.7 seconds, which is possibly a CNFR record.
“I knew I didn’t win it when I heard the crowd cheer for her,” Nelson said.
The UW Cowgirl wound up with an 11.8 on her four attempts.
Only one UW Cowboy team member reached Saturday’s short go.
Tyler Schnaufer slid down the tie down standings when he couldn’t throw the calf down cleanly and wound up with a time of 12.1 seconds. His four-round time of 44 seconds left him 11th in the overall average.
Knowing he was out of the average, but wanting to win the round, the Pueblo, Colo., senior went for broke entering the competition. He had a clean dismount, but ran into trouble once he tried to take down the calf. He also had a hitch in the tie that also cost him a second or two.
Kaycee Nelson (UW Photo)