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In the end, the University of Wyoming men's rodeo team came up short in its bid to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) -- 271 points short to be exact.
That was the point spread between the Cowboys and second-place Gillette College in the final Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) team standings after Sunday's final event -- the Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo.
It was important for UW to try to finish among the top two regional teams to gain an automatic qualifying bid to next month's CNFR in Casper. Defending CRMR champion Casper College repeated with a 10-regional rodeo total of 4,310 points, while Gillette College was second with 4,106.7 points. Despite placing second in the home finale Sunday at the Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena, the Cowboys placed third in the final regional standings.
So, instead of packing up and heading to college's year-end rodeo with a full six-man team, just two Cowboys will advance to the CNFR based on their regular season performances in their respective individual events. The top three in each individual event qualifies for the CNFR.
UW's Tyler Schnaufer, a Pueblo, Colo., junior, and partner Shay Carroll from Northeastern Junior College won the team roping title. UW teammate Clayton Van Aken, a Descanso, Calif., sophomore, was the region's top tie down roper.
And one UW Cowgirl also received a berth into the CNFR. Lydia Coe, a junior from Salinas, Calif., held off two other women in the final standings to narrowly place second in the breakaway roping competition. Just seven points separated Coe and the fourth place finisher, UW teammate Kaycee Nelson, a Buffalo, S.D., sophomore, who was the defending regional champion.
The UW men opened the season last fall with a school-record 770 team points and closed out the year with another win. But the team was undone by an inconsistent spring season, including one rodeo where the team was hurt by failing to score a single point.
Depth also hurt the club's performance. Sunday was a good indication, despite the second place showing. Central Wyoming College won the team title with 650 points, while the Cowboys were second with 510.
Schnaufer and Van Aken managed to score most of the Cowboys' team points. Schnaufer accounted for 270 alone when he and Carroll came out of the three-hole after the opening team roping round to win both the short go and the average, with two-run times of 7.5 and 7.3 seconds.
Earlier, Schnaufer was second in tie down roping's short go round in 10 seconds and was the runner-up in the overall average. He won the Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo all-around title.
Van Aken scored 170 points by finishing third in the tie down roping average on the strength of the second fastest time in the opening round. He and team roping partner Lydia Coe were fifth in the opening round and wound up sixth in the average.
The final team points for UW also came in team roping. Gillette freshman Eric Gewecke and partner Trey Fortune of Eastern Wyoming College were third in the average.
Carroll won the region's all-around title and Schnaufer was third. Women's honors went to Northeastern Junior College's Hayden Segelke.
Gillette College won the women's competition of the Laramie River Rendezvous title with 300 team points, but it wasn't enough for the Lady Pronghorns to gain one of the top two positions in the CRMR standings.
Central Wyoming College won the regional title with 3,063.33 points, while Chadron College strung together three straight wins late in the season to overtake Gillette College for second place with 2,483.33 points -- 240 better than the Lady Pronghorns.
The Cowgirls finished fifth in the CRMR with 1,291.33 points after 10 rodeos during the fall and spring seasons. The team also placed fifth in its own home rodeo with 133.3 team points.
Heather Bregar, a Lander sophomore, led the scoring for the Cowgirls by placing third in the goat tying average. She had the second fastest time in Sunday's short go. The final 40 team points came from Coe, who partnered with Van Aken to place sixth in team roping.
For complete team and individual results from the Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo, please click here. For final CRMR standings, go here.