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UW’s Van Aken Misses Out in Tie Down Roping at CNFR

June 19, 2014 — If University of Wyoming two-event cowboy Clayton Van Aken reaches Saturday’s College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) short go, it will have to be in team roping. But he’ll need a strong effort Thursday night.

Van Aken, of Descanso, Calif., had a slim chance to qualify in tie down roping Wednesday night, but drew a runner and missed on his third and final attempt. He successfully tied just one calf this week in his three rounds of competition.

“The calf he originally drew had a swollen neck, so he had the extra calf. We knew he (calf) could run, and he did run,” UW Coach George Howard says. “Clayton had to catch up with the calf and he missed him.”

He was the only UW Cowboy competing Wednesday night.

Van Aken returns Thursday night in his final team roping opportunity. Hopes remain alive for Van Aken and partner Kyon Kreutzer of Northeastern Junior College. They have one tied in two rounds of competition.

Finishing up Friday night, with a good chance of reaching Saturday’s championship round, is bareback rider Wyatt Clark. The Wellfleet, Neb., senior was sitting ninth in the average on two with 147 points. A successful ride should keep him in the top 10 in the average, with the top 12 reaching the championship round.

“All he has to do is make the whistle and he’s in,” Howard says.

The club’s third team roping qualifier, Kade Merritt of Eaton, Colo., and partner Jade Schmidt of Gillette College, close out their CNFR run and look to tie up their first steer Thursday evening.

Fort Lupton, Colo., roper Brit Ellerman, who has already qualified for Saturday’s short go in team roping, and partner Seth Andersen of Gillette College, moved down to sixth in the average after Wednesday’s competition. Earlier in the week, they were in third in the average.

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