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March 18, 2014 — Just like that, the University of Wyoming men’s rodeo team put itself back into regional title contention.
It may appear that the Pokes still trail Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) leaders Gillette College and Casper College by a wide margin, but all it takes is one solid rodeo to thrust the club back into serious contention.
Take last weekend’s opening spring rodeo hosted by Gillette College. The Cowboys won two events en route to a second-place finish. With four rodeos left on the docket, things can change in a hurry in the regional team standings.
UW remains fifth overall in the CRMR standings with 2,160 points, just five off the pace of fourth-place Sheridan College. The Pokes scored a solid 520 points at Gillette College last weekend to place second behind Northeastern Junior College (NEJC), which had 560 team points.
The two regional leaders -- Gillette College and Casper College -- managed just 295 and 245 points, respectively, opening the door for the UW men to contend for one of the two automatic berths to this summer’s College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.
The Pronghorns of Gillette College have 2,885 overall points to lead the CRMR standings, while the T-Birds of Casper College have 2,698.33. The UW men are just 65 points out of the third-place slot held by Eastern Wyoming College (EWC).
Senior Wyatt Clark of Wellfleet, Neb., personally scored 235 of UW’s points with strong showings in three events last weekend.
Clark won the opening round of the bareback riding competition, then split second in the short go to win the average. He was fifth in saddle bronc riding and then added 20 points in team roping, capping a busy weekend in a trio of events.
He is now the regional bareback riding leader.
Clayton Van Aken, a Descanso, Calif., senior, continued to climb the regional team roping standings when he and partner Kyon Kreutzer of NEJC won the short go after placing fourth in the opening round to take the average. The pair is now third in the overall team roping standings.
Two other Pokes added points to UW’s haul, giving Coach George Howard’s club positive production on both sides of the arena.
Senior Thomas Smith of Eden was third in the steer wrestling average, and teammate Kade Merritt of Eaton, Colo., placed sixth in tie down roping.
Hunter Christensen of Alta was the bulldogging runner-up, but was not selected to the six-man UW team before last weekend’s rodeo; his points didn’t count in the Cowboys’ overall performance.
The UW women’s struggles continued, as the club failed to score last weekend.
CRMR teams are back in action the weekend of April 4-6 at the EWC rodeo in Torrington.
For individual and team results from the Gillette College rodeo, click here.
For complete overall CRMR standings, click here.