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June 16, 2014 — Going into the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), University of Wyoming Coach George Howard pointed to his team ropers as the backbone of his four-man qualifying team.
With three team ropers entered at this week’s CNFR in Casper, the Cowboys came through the opening slack round Monday morning in decent shape. Two of the ropers had good runs, while the third is still not out of it.
Brit Ellerman of Fort Lupton, Colo., and partner Seth Andersen of Gillette College opened the week on a promising note, successfully stopping the clock in 7.1 seconds in the first round of competition. They are ninth overall. Tarleton State College’s Billy Bob Brown opened with a 4.8 time to take the early lead.
Earlier in the morning, UW teammate Clayton Van Aken, from Descanso, Calif., and partner Kyon Kreutzer from Northeastern Junior College clocked a solid 7.6 to put them at the No. 11 position.
“They both made nice, solid runs. Everything worked well for them,” Howard says. “They just need to keep it going the rest of the week, make good runs and stop the clock. They’re in good shape.”
The third UW team roping qualifier, Kade Merritt of Eaton, Colo., and partner Jade Schmidt of Gillette College, had a tough-luck steer and failed to mark.
But Howard quickly points out that even though Merritt failed in his first attempt, he has two more chances to achieve low times to reach the short go. Howard says it’s been done before in past finals rodeos when a team with one no-time came back to qualify for the short go.
The top 12 individual times and scores from the timed and roughstock events during three rounds of preliminary action this week advance to the championship round Saturday at 7 p.m.
Van Aken, the only Cowboy competing in two events, had a no-time earlier in the morning in tie down roping when he broke late out of the box and missed his calf.
The Cowboys are back in action Tuesday with the second and final round of slack. Competing will be Wellfleet, Neb., cowboy Wyatt Clark for his second round of bareback riding; Van Aken in both team and tie down roping; and Merritt and Ellerman in team roping.
Ellerman finishes his three rounds of team roping when he competes in the first night performance Tuesday at 7 p.m. By then, he’ll likely know if he will reach the CNFR short go.