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Pokes to Send Three to College National Finals Rodeo

May 4, 2015
man in cowboy hat
Brit Ellerman

After growing up watching their fathers rope together, and hearing stories about how their dads competed at the National Finals Rodeo, it only was natural for Brit Ellerman and Trey Yates to follow them into the rodeo arena.

Ellerman, a University of Wyoming business administration senior from Fort Lupton, Colo., and Yates, from Eastern Wyoming College (EWC), put together two solid rounds to win the team roping average during Sunday’s short go of the 66th annual Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo.

Winning the short go, coupled with the overall win in the average, enabled the duo to overtake Brady Wakefield of Gillette College and EWC’s Levi O’Keefe for the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) team roping title by just 10 points.

Ellerman and Yates were the season-long leaders, but lost the overall lead when the pair failed to place in the first four spring rodeos. It took the season-ending finale at the Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena for the lifelong buddies to win the regional title.

“I love the pressure. We knew it was going to come down to this, the final round. So, being able to practice together, and just roping with Trey so long, I was confident that, if I did my job and that Trey would do his, we would be OK,” Ellerman said after winning the event. “I think the pressure and it coming down to the end actually helped us. We only had one choice, and that was to win it.”

With only the sixth-best time in the first round at 7.6 seconds, the pair knew they had to be better in the short go. As the fourth team up, Ellerman, the header, got his rope off cleanly and Yates quickly followed, stopping the clock in 6.5 seconds, giving the ropers the time to beat at 14 seconds. Only one of the five remaining teams managed a successful time as Ellerman and Yates took the win.

Wakefield and O’Keefe had the opening round’s best time of 5.9 seconds and needed just one more good round of 8 seconds or less to wrap up the regional title, but the pair had a no-time in Sunday’s short go.

Ellerman and UW teammates Tylor Bond, Jaden Clark, Jess Davison and Brady Dinwoodie helped fuel the Cowboys to their best overall performance of the spring season. The Pokes were third during their home stand. Casper College wrapped up the CRMR title with a season-best 620 points to dominate the field. Sheridan College scored 390 points, while the UW men were just 20 points behind the Generals.

Ellerman accounted for 130 of the team’s points with his and Yates’ team roping title. It was the team’s only win of the season, but they were steady enough in the fall season to claim the CRMR lead at the halfway point of the schedule. However, the pair has struggled this spring with a string of missed opportunities. But, Ellerman says, he and Yates never gave up.

“Trey and I have roped tougher for a long time; he’s like family to me, and it’s just one of those deals where we couldn’t get anything going this spring,” Ellerman says. They were encouraged by their fathers, Jay Ellerman and J.D. Yates, who actually roped together at the pro rodeo finals.

“Trey and I have been roping together since we were little kids,” Ellerman adds. “It’s going to be special roping with him at the CNFR. I can’t wait.” The College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) is June 14-20 in Casper.

As for Bond, he didn’t think he’d qualify for the CNFR after suffering a devastating knee injury at the first spring rodeo at Gillette College. He tore his ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus steer wrestling back in March and thought his season was over.

“I had some guys tell me it’s better to get surgery on it and get healed faster,” Bond said behind the roping box at the Hansen arena. “It was my senior year, and I couldn’t quit. I don’t know if it was dumb or tough. I just kept going, and it ended up pretty decent.”

The Avondale, Colo., senior gutted it out the entire spring season, competing on a heavily bandaged knee. His toughness showed over the weekend when he posted the opening round’s best time of 4.7 seconds. He had a 5.3-second time to finish at 10-flat to finish second in the average to Casper College’s Jake Fulton.

What made Bond’s 160-point contribution to the team total so significant was that it pushed him to the No. 3 slot in the overall regional bulldogging standings. The top three individuals in each of the six men’s events gain an automatic berth into next month’s CNFR at the Casper Events Center. However, Bond’s late-season push came at the expense of teammate Hunter Christensen of Alta. Bond leap-frogged his teammate for the third position by just 40 points.

“My knee is getting a lot better, and I’m getting a lot of physical therapy. I started out really bad this spring season, and I could hardly bend it at all. Now, I can get it to 90 degrees, and that’s really good,” Bond says, even though he has a noticeable limp. “The first few times competing earlier this spring, the knee hurt really bad, but the last two runs here this weekend didn’t really bother me at all.”

The third UW qualifier for college rodeo’s biggest event is Brady Dinwoodie. The Griffin, Saskatchewan, transfer student wrapped up the regional saddle bronc riding title months ago. The senior roughstock competitor added 30 team points for the Cowboys this past weekend, but didn’t place in the average when he marked out during Sunday’s short go.

At the final home rodeo, Wellfleet, Neb., sophomore Jaden Clark was third in the bareback riding average. Jess Davison, from Miles City, Mont., picked up fourth-place points in the tie down roping average.

Casper College took the CRMR team title with 4,125 points, while Gillette College was second with 3,680. Chadron State College placed third with 3,405 points, and the UW men were fourth overall with 3,265. Only the top two clubs send full six-man teams to the CNFR.

Gillette College won the women’s team championship going away with 3,282.5 points after 10 rodeos, easily topping second-place Northeastern Junior College, which scored 1,755 points. The UW women finished 10th overall with 652 points.

Sheridan College won the Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo with 350 points, and Chadron State College was the runner-up with 310 points. The Cowgirls were sixth, with a spring season-best of 130 points.

Kailee Webb of Isabel, S.D., paced the Cowgirls with a fourth-place finish in barrel racing, scoring 80 team points. Two of her teammates added points competing in goat tying.

Josee Vogel of Pavillion was sixth in the average, while Amelia Anderson of Forsyth, Mont., qualified for the short go with a solid opening round. The UW women did not qualify a team member for the CNFR.

For Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo results, click here. Go here for final CRMR individual and team results.

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