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After nearly five years of putting out young clubs each season, University of Wyoming rodeo Coach George Howard may finally have himself a pretty good women’s team after all.
The time may have finally arrived after being patient to rebuild a once proud Cowgirls team. UW won national titles in 2007 and 2009 and was always a top 10 fixture at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) since winning its first national championship in the early 1990s. Then, hard times hit after the 2011 season.
The Cowgirls have to be considered one of the surprise Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) teams this fall, considering that Howard still has a very young four-woman team -- a club void of any seniors.
The UW women’s team ended the fall portion of the 2015-16 schedule by winning the season finale at the Shawn Dubie Memorial Rodeo at Laramie County Community College (LCCC) last Sunday.
It was the Cowgirls’ first win since taking the Lamar Community College rodeo in October 2012.
The goat tying pair of junior Amelia Anderson and sophomore Josee Vogel went one-two to score a whopping 275 points as the Cowgirls totaled 330 points to place first at LCCC. They edged perennial CRMR champion Gillette College by just 10 points to vault themselves into overall regional contention heading into the spring season.
Only the top two women’s clubs in the region send full four-member teams to next summer’s CNFR in Casper. With last weekend’s win, the Cowgirls are firmly in contention for at least the runner-up spot, trailing number two team Northeastern Junior College by just 58 points. Gillette College leads the pack with 1,403.3, just 248.3 points ahead of the third-place Cowgirls.
At the LCCC rodeo, Anderson, of Forsythe, Mont., and Vogel, of Pavillion, moved up the individual regional goat tying standings by taking the top two spots.
Anderson split the opening round, and then placed second in the short go to win the overall average by just two-tenths of a second over Vogel. The Fremont County competitor wasn’t among the top six to score points in the opening round, but took the short go and added additional points by placing second in the average to give the Cowgirls the one-two punch in the event.
Both moved up the CRMR overall goat tying slate, with Anderson solidifying her second-place standing in the event, while Vogel moved into third place. The top three individuals in each event earn an automatic bid to the season-ending CNFR.
The Cowgirls’ final 55 team points came from another underclassman, Kailee Webb, from Isabel, S.D., in breakaway roping. The sophomore split third-place in the opening round and didn’t have a qualifying time in the short go, but her overall time stood up to earn her fifth in the average. It’s the first time she’s placed in the event this season. Her specialty is barrel racing, where she currently sits third overall in the regional standings, and is just 60 points behind the runner-up position.
The UW men hit a bump in the road in Cheyenne last weekend, finishing ninth overall, dropping the club to fifth place in the overall CRMR standings.
The Pokes scored a season-low 120 points at LCCC, scoring in just two events.
Casper sophomore Brock Wahlert had the Cowboys’ best finish, placing fifth in bareback riding. He scored more than half the team’s points with 70 in the event. The final 50 points came from Jess Davison, of Miles City, Mont., in tie down roping. The sophomore was sixth in the steer wrestling average.
Gillette College took the final fall rodeo with a team-high 415 points, while Casper College was second with 355 points, and the home team LCCC club placed third with 335.
Chadron State College heads into the spring season as the overall CRMR leader with 2,280 points. Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) is second with 1,897.5; Casper College has 1,645; Gillette College is fourth with 1,605 points; and the Pokes are in fifth place with 1,505.
The Cowboys have a pair of contestants in the top two of their respective events. LaSalle, Colo., bull rider Jacob Smith continues to dominate rodeo’s toughest event, owning a nearly 300-point lead over his nearest pursuer. And after being the steer wrestling leader for nearly the entire season, Purdum, Neb., bulldogger Dillon Simonson slipped to second place overall, but is just five points behind the leader.
The spring season begins March 4-6 with the EWC rodeo.