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UW to Send Three to College Finals Rodeo

June 10, 2015
head portrait of man
Brit Ellerman

The University of Wyoming will send just three qualifiers to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), but the trio has plenty of experience on the national stage that could propel the three to the championship round.

The Pokes will be led by a pair of regular season Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) champions when the CNFR begins Sunday, June 14, at the Casper Events Center with two sections of “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway” performances at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Two slack sessions are scheduled Monday, June 15, and Tuesday, June 16, at 7 a.m., and the first of four nightly performances begins Tuesday at 7 p.m. The championship round is scheduled Saturday, June 20, also at 7 p.m.

With just three qualifiers -- all on the men’s team -- this will be the smallest contingent during Coach George Howard’s tenure leading the UW program since 1997. No UW Cowgirl qualified for the season-ending rodeo.

“It’s one of those things this year where we didn’t get six qualified, only three, but all three are outstanding. I’m excited for them,” Howard says.

Just the top two teams in each region automatically send full six-man teams to the CNFR, but individuals also can earn bids by placing among the top three in their respective events. The Pokes finished fourth in this year’s CRMR competition after sitting in second place after the fall schedule.

Last season, UW’s men finished 22nd in the final CNFR standings, with just two of the four qualifiers scoring points. With three qualifiers this season, the Pokes can do some damage if each can score in every round and place in the overall average.

The three UW qualifiers are all seniors with CNFR experience.

Leading the way is the team’s most consistent performer, saddle bronc rider Brady Dinwoodie, who won the regional title by a wide margin. The Griffin, Saskatchewan, transfer student is ranked fourth nationally in total points scored during the 10-rodeo regular season. He placed in all but one rodeo this past season.

“He doesn’t try to outscore anyone else; he’s just trying to beat the horse, and that’s what I like about Brady,” Howard says. “He’s just so fundamentally sound in everything he does; he’s just a good bronc rider who doesn’t make too many mistakes.”

Dinwoodie will make his third CNFR appearance after competing the two previous seasons for a New Mexico school.

Making his second straight post-season appearance is team roper Brit Ellerman, who won the team roping title on the last day with childhood buddy Trey Yates from Eastern Wyoming College.

Last season, Ellerman, from Fort Lupton, Colo., qualified as an individual and couldn’t use Yates as his partner at the CNFR. Instead, he was paired with another individual qualifier, Seth Anderson of Gillette College. The pair were surprise contenders, and were third in the standings at one point late in the week, but did not place among the top five in the average.

This time, he and Yates will be paired with hopes of advancing to the championship round.

“Brit has a good partner this time around. They’ve been together since they were itty-bitty kids. They know what to do,” Howard says. “Brit won the National High School Rodeo team roping title. He’s been there, done that, and the bright lights won’t bother him.”

“Trey and I have roped together for a long time; he’s like family to me,” Ellerman said earlier this spring. Their fathers, Jay Ellerman and J.D. Yates, roped together at the pro rodeo finals. “It’s going to be special roping with Trey at the CNFR. I can’t wait.”

Perhaps the surprise qualifier for the Cowboys is steer wrestler Tylor Bond. The Avondale, Colo., bulldogger is competing with a severely damaged knee. He completely tore his ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus during the first spring rodeo at Gillette College, sat out the following week, but placed in three straight rodeos, including winning the final home event, to work his way to the No. 3 position in the final regional standings.

“His knee is totally torn up. He just said ‘I’m not going to get it fixed; I want to win the CNFR,’” Howard says. “What’s happened now is that he’s not taking any unnecessary chances. He’s doing things fundamentally, and he’s not doing anything wild and crazy that will get him hurt. Maybe the injury was a blessing in disguise.”

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