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June 20, 2014 — There’s no doubt that University of Wyoming senior Clayton Van Aken will be thinking about his missed steer earlier in the week. It cost him a chance to reach the short go in team roping at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
Despite a near-flawless run Thursday night that resulted in a 5.9-second time, Van Aken and partner Kyon Kreutzer of Northeastern Junior College just missed qualifying among the top 12 teams that will advance to Saturday’s championship round.
Their final attempt was one of the fastest for team ropers Friday night. After their third run, the pair moved up to the No. 13 spot, leaving them just out of the running.
“They had a good round, and it’s just too bad that they won’t make it to the finals,” UW Coach George Howard says. “But those things happen.”
This week marked the fourth consecutive year the Descanso, Calif., senior qualified for the CNFR. He reached collegiate rodeo’s main competition as a two-event contestant, but he and Kreutzer missed out on their second-round steer, sandwiched between two solid runs.
“If he could have caught three, he would be sitting in the top three right now,” Howard says.
Instead, the program’s all-time leading men’s scorer saw his UW career come to an end. Van Aken also competed this week in tie down roping, but managed just one good qualified time.
Van Aken was the only UW team member up Thursday night. Two of his teammates will compete Friday night, with one of them still in contention for a short go bid.
Senior Wyatt Clark of Wellfleet, Neb., needs to reach the whistle to qualify in bareback riding. He has 147 points on two.
Easton, Colo., junior Kade Merritt finishes his three guaranteed rounds in team roping. He and partner Jade Schmidt of Gillette College have yet to secure a qualified time.
Brit Ellerman of Fort Lupton, Colo., will compete in Saturday’s championship round with team roping partner Seth Andersen of Gillette College. The pair remained sixth in the average after Thursday’s performance.