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June 10, 2013 — It was the kind of nervousness the University of Wyoming’s Kaycee Nelson likes.
The two-time Central Rocky Mountain Region breakaway roper had a solid opening round Sunday afternoon at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) at the Casper Events Center.
Teammate Hunter Hoover matched his teammate’s opening mark when he rode his bull the full eight seconds in the last round of Sunday’s two matinee performances.
But it wasn’t such a successful first round of the week for two other UW team members.
Action resumed this (Monday) morning with the first of two slack rounds. The first of four nightly CNFR performances starts Tuesday. The week culminates with Saturday’s short go.
For Nelson, it was a matter of trusting her horse.
She and “Tuff” performed well enough to stop the clock in 3.4 seconds to put her 11th overall after the first round. The goal is to put together three solid performances throughout the week to reach Saturday’s short go round.
Coming into the CNFR, UW Coach George Howard preached the importance of nailing the first round, whether it was stopping the clock for his timed event performers or marking for the roughstock riders.
“It’s crucial to do well the first round. It all comes down to roping four calves for me, and all I want to do is go out and successfully rope that first one,” Nelson says as she loosened the cinch on Tuff’s saddle. “I’m just glad I’m sitting solid right now and also glad I got that first one out of the way.”
Nelson, a Buffalo, S.D., senior, added that she felt no pressure coming into her final CNFR because she’s been here before. Two years ago, she was sitting high in the standings after two rounds, but didn’t record a successful time in her final attempt that kept her out of the short go.
This, of course, is her ultimate goal this week. And the nerves were there just like during her sophomore season.
“It was good nerves today, but my horse performed well and we were solid,” she says.
Making his first CNFR appearance, Hoover rode “Roll With It” to 67 points, putting him ninth overall at the end of round one. Howard predicts that if Hoover can mark in at least one more round, the Walsh, Colo., sophomore will reach the short go.
“It wasn’t the greatest ride, but I’ll take it,” the tall, lanky UW bull rider said. “My rope came loose about halfway through my ride and I just ‘Hail Mary-ed’ it the rest of the way.”
Drawing a smaller bull that just spun for the full eight seconds, the 6-foot Hunter had to adjust his ride.
“He’s a young bull that hasn’t been ridden a lot. He just kind of slowed down at the end,” Hoover said. “My goal this week is to win it all. But first, I want to ride three bulls. That’s my job, and I’ll just try my best.”
Earlier Sunday afternoon, senior Justin Moldaschel committed an infraction in the bareback riding competition. The senior did not get his boot spurs above “Badlands Bay’s” shoulders coming out of the bucking chutes and failed to mark.
The team’s bad luck drifted over to the UW women’s side as well.
Regional breakaway runner-up Lydia Coe missed on her first calf of the CNFR. The Salinas, Calif., senior had no problem getting cleanly out of the roping box, but once she threw her rope, the calf broke sharply to the right, leaving Coe hitting nothing but air.
It will be tough for both Moldaschel and Coe to reach Saturday’s short go. Just the top 12 individuals in each event advance to the finals. And it usually takes three successful rounds by each competitor to qualify for the all-important fourth round.
UW team ropers Tyler Schnaufer and Clayton Van Aken, and barrel racer Chandler Markel, will compete for the first time during Monday's slack.