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Published June 13, 2016
If University of Wyoming Cowboys Jacob Smith and Jaden Clark were nervous about making their first College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) appearance, they sure didn’t show it with a pair of top 10 performances Sunday afternoon.
Smith, a sophomore from LaSalle, Colo., rode “Warlord” to an impressive 77-point ride to claim second place after round one in college rodeo’s toughest event during the afternoon “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway” performance at the Casper Events Center. The made-for-television event features only bull and bronc riders, and women’s breakaway roping competitors, ending the first full round of competition in those three individual events.
Earlier in the afternoon, Smith’s teammate, Jaden Clark, a Wellfleet, Neb., sophomore, also turned in a successful ride in the bareback competition. Clark, who wasn’t an automatic qualifier for the Pokes (only those who finish in the top three of their regional events or are a member of a full six-man team) gained a bid because he is the region’s student director.
Smith put together a 73.5-point ride on “Hypnotic” to split the eighth/ninth spot to gain team points.
Even though the Cowboys didn’t place among the two automatic qualifying teams from the Central Rocky Mountain Region this past season, UW can still earn points in the overall team chase.
And the Pokes did quite well on the opening day. With Smith’s second-place finish, the UW bull rider scored 70 points in just one event, and Smith added five more points to give the Cowboys 75 points after the opening round. Not bad for the UW men, who have only three men competing. The third UW qualifier is senior steer wrestler Dillon Simonson of Purdum, Neb.
“I have no complaints at all. Both Jacob and Jaden did their jobs, and we’re off to a good start,” UW Coach George Howard says.
The UW women have a full four-member team competing at this week’s CNFR, which runs through Saturday, June 18. All UW club members will compete today (Monday) in the first of two slack rounds.
Howard is taking two completely inexperienced teams into this week’s CNFR, as the four-member women’s team -- all underclassmen -- and the three men, all have never competed in the year-end rodeo.
For Smith, his ride got off to a rocky start when “Warlord” jumped around the chute, causing extra excitement. When the gate opened, it appeared that Smith was about to lose his rope on the second jump, but the UW cowboy sat back and rode out to the eight-second buzzer.
Clark drew a solid horse with “Hypnotic,” managing to put together a good, solid ride, Howard said. He added that Clark almost got distracted with the loud crowd noise, something that he has not encountered this season.
“I told him I’m giving him earplugs to wear the rest of the week,” the coach said, chuckling.
UW cowgirls Amelia Anderson, from Forsythe, Mont.; Karlee Peterson, of Sturgis, N.D.; and Josee Vogel, from Pavillion, all in goat tying, compete during Monday’s slack, along with teammate Kailee Webb, of Isabel, S.D., in barrel racing. Smith competes in the slack round, marking his second-round turn, and Simonson makes his debut in the bulldogging competition.
All four UW women will compete in Tuesday morning’s second slack round, along with Simonson, and Clark finishes his second round of bareback riding.
Each of UW’s qualifiers is guaranteed to compete in one of the nightly performances that begin Tuesday.