UW's Nelson Sitting Second in CNFR Breakaway Average
Kaycee Nelson realized that sometimes slower is faster.
Nelson, a University of Wyoming senior from Buffalo, S.D., stopped the clock in a blazing 2.6 seconds during the second round of breakaway roping competition Monday at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) at the Casper Events Center.
She is second in the average during the second round, which wraps up during Tuesday’s slack. National leader Kimerlyn Fehringer of Idaho State leads with a two-round time of 4.9 seconds. Nelson is second at six seconds.
During the opening breakaway round Sunday, Nelson recorded a time of 3.4 seconds and shaved nearly a full second off her second head time. She attributes that to drawing a slower calf.
“Coming in, I knew that I had to see more, had to score sharp, and I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. I also knew that I had to reach more. It was a different game plan today,” Nelson said as she confidently smiled.
She is sitting high in the two-round average and is firmly in contention. Nelson, who has won the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) breakaway roping title two of the last three years, is trying to add to the Nelson legacy at UW. Her older sister, Kayla, won back-to-back goat tying titles for the Cowgirls a few years ago.
“It feels good right now. So far, so good,” Nelson said about her two-round average time. “One more round and then, hopefully, the long run. We’ll see what happens.”
Nelson completes her guaranteed three runs during the first nightly performance Tuesday. Then, it’s a waiting game to see if she qualifies for Saturday’s short go. The top 12 times and marks in each men’s and women’s events throughout the week advance to the championship round.
Nelson said she likes finishing her three rounds early in the week. She learned last week that her three rounds of competition would come on successive days. It’s the same draw she had as a sophomore, but she missed the short go when she failed to get the rope over the calf’s head on her third attempt.
“I am the type of person that would rather go out early and set the pace; get it done and let others compete rather than wait until the end of the week and overthink,” Nelson said. “I’d rather just get it out of the way, sit back, relax and not have to worry about anything.”
All seven UW CNFR qualifiers competed during Monday’s slack.
Earlier in the morning, UW’s Tyler Schnaufer competed in the opening round of tie down roping. The CRMR all-around runner-up this season recorded a time of 10.3 seconds. He lost valuable seconds taking the calf down and getting the hind legs tied. He is 15th after one round.
Schnaufer, a Pueblo, Colo., senior, returned later in the afternoon to combine with partner Clayton Van Aken, a Descanso, Calif., junior, to record a 12.2 second time in team roping. They stopped the clock in a respectable 6.2 time, but Van Aken managed only to capture one heel, adding a 5-second penalty to their overall time.
Schnaufer, the defending CNFR champion header, broke in a new heeler in Van Aken this season.
“My guy (Schnaufer) won the whole thing last year, one of the best headers here and I’m lucky to be his heeler. I just didn’t do my job today,” Van Aken said. “There is no more added pressure on me roping with the defending champion. We both want to win. We have two more rounds. I just need to catch the feet and we should be all right.”
The pair is 21st after one round of roping.
The second round of bareback riding was much better for Justin Moldaschel than the opening frame. The Northfield, Minn., senior rode “Moon” to one of the round’s highest marks at 72 points.
“Kind of felt like my old self again. My horse was a little weaker today, but it all worked out,” Moldashel said. “I know it will be tough coming back for the short go after I didn’t mark Sunday, but it’s not over yet. There’s still a lot of riding to go. If I can draw well Tuesday night, I still have a chance, but it depends on what happens the rest of the week.”
It wasn’t quite the opening round she was looking for, but Chandler Markel came away with a clean 15.39 run in the barrel racing competition that opened Monday’s slack at 7 a.m.
As the 17th competitor up, Markel came out of the gate and went after the first barrel on her left side first and completed a pair of clean turns on the first two barrels. But her horse “Sammy” drifted wide on the third turn, leaving her with a higher time than she would have liked.
“It wasn’t the one I was expecting, but I’ll take it. It definitely could have been better and there is always tomorrow,” Markel said of her opening ride. “This is the first time Sammy’s been in this arena. He just couldn’t get his footing. He likes long, deep patterns.”
Markel currently is 40th overall.
Salinas, Calif., senior Lydia Coe had a 3.5 time in her second breakaway roping round. She had a no-time the previous day.
“I was really hoping to win the round, but I didn’t give myself the start I needed. I was a little late getting out of the box. I should have pushed the barrier a little more,” Coe said.
“Babe” the bull wasn’t too kind to UW rider Hunter Hoover. The large bull rolled Hoover off the left side just three seconds into his ride for no points. The day before, Hoover scored 67.5 points, and must wait until Friday for his final ride. A successful mark could boost the Walsh, Colo., sophomore into the final round because no rider has successfully ridden two bulls. Hoover is eighth in the average.