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UW Rodeo Teams Prepare for College National Finals

June 7, 2017

University of Wyoming rodeo Coach George Howard likes to talk about competing under the “bright lights” of the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) and how the glare can sometimes intimidate a first-time competitor.

“I believe that it takes about two years competing before you really do some good,” he says. “Experience does count.”

And that’s why he’s confident his women’s team can make some noise when the CNFR kicks off Sunday, June 11, at the Casper Events Center. The weeklong competition, which attracts nearly 400 competitors nationwide from 11 different regions, culminates with the championship round Saturday, June 17.

Even though his four-member Cowgirls’ team is still relatively young -- only one qualifier is a senior – --three in the group all have CNFR experience.

“They have been there before and have quite a bit of experience,” says Howard who believes that factor counts for the team’s chances of doing well.

The team is loaded in the goat tying competition where three of the Cowgirls were among the top seven in the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CNFR) this past season.

The goat tying trio is led by newcomer Cori Terry, from tiny McKinnon (population: approximately 60 residents), located in Sweetwater County. The freshman was the CRMR leader for much of the season, but was overtaken late in the year and wound up in second place.

She is the only team member without CNFR experience, and Howard is making sure she will not be intimidated. In recent practices, he has set up the team’s indoor practice facility -- the Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena -- to be at the exact dimensions as the Casper Event Center’s dirt floor.

“She’s right there and has got her time down between 6.3 and 6.9 seconds, which is good enough for the CNFR,” Howard says.

The other two goat tyers -- Amelia Anderson, the lone senior from Forsyth, Mont., and junior Casey Reimler, from Rozet -- both had successful regular season outcomes. Anderson was third in her specialty event among all regional competitors. She qualified for the CNFR previously as did Reimler who competed in breakaway roping for Gillette College last season. She placed seventh in the CRMR goat tying event this past season.

The fourth team member -- Kailee Webb, an Isabel, S.D., junior, who won the regional barrel racing title last season -- reached last season’s CNFR championship round. However, a freak accident, where she damaged a knee hitting a barrel on one of the turns, cost her a chance to finish among the top finishers.

Recovering from the injury, and horse troubles throughout the season, slowed her progress, but she finished strong down the stretch just in time for the CNFR.

“She’s got things worked out now and she knows what it takes to compete at the CNFR,” Howard says.

Only the top two women’s and men’s teams in each of the regions automatically qualify for the CNFR, but individuals who finish among the top three in their respective events also can earn bids to college rodeo’s season-ending event.

That’s how UW qualified three Cowboys for next week’s competition.

Junior Wyatt Hageman, from Jay Em, is qualified for his first CNFR in saddle bronc riding, which is quite the feat since he only started riding broncs two years ago. He placed third during the regular season final standings.

“He’s come a long ways,” Howard says. “He’s figured out how to get things done right, and he’s been marking his horses out and that’s what counts.”

Dusty Taylor, a freshman from Craig, Colo., and his brother, Denton Taylor, a sophomore, came through on the final day of the regular season to qualify in team roping. The brothers have been competing in jackpot roping events since the end of the regular season as a way to stay sharp for the CNFR.

“They’ve been on a roll winning roping events. They look sharp and are ready,” Howard says. “They have to be consistent on four-head next week. Now, they just have to go out there and stop the clock.”

Action begins Sunday with two “Bulls, Broncs & Breakaway” performances, followed by two days of slack Monday and Tuesday at 7 a.m. The first of four nightly performances begins Tuesday, with the championship round scheduled Saturday. All night performance begin at 7 p.m.

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