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Published February 27, 2018
Lydia Coe knows she has a tough task ahead of her, but she’s up to the challenge.
Coe, 26, is set to lead the University of Wyoming rodeo program on an interim basis this spring. She takes over for longtime head Coach George Howard, who led the UW men’s and women’s programs for two decades. Howard died unexpectedly late last November in Converse County.
However, Coe is no stranger to the UW program. She has been Howard’s assistant the past three and a half years. She also competed for Howard for two years, qualifying for the 2012 and 2013 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), both times in breakaway roping.
“It will be tough replacing George. He left a long-standing legacy at UW,” she says. “I am excited to move forward with what he built at UW. I want to pick up where he left off and move upward and onward. I have spent quite a bit of time with the team, and we have been practicing steadily the past couple of months.”
She will get that chance when the UW teams open the spring season this weekend at the rescheduled Laramie County Community College (LCCC) rodeo in Cheyenne. The LCCC rodeo normally is scheduled as the final competition of the fall Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) schedule. But, a virus hit some of the LCCC team members’ horses last semester, forcing officials to quarantine some of the animals.
That means the CRMR will have six rodeos this spring, instead of the usual five, which will culminate with the annual Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo, hosted by UW, April 27-29.
Coe inherits a UW Cowgirls team that is among the top in the region. The UW women are solidly entrenched in second place in the CRMR -- a position the Cowgirls secured a year ago to qualify a full team to last summer’s CNFR in Casper. The Cowgirls were the national runners-up.
The Cowgirls scored 805 points during the four fall rodeos to trail perennial regional power Gillette College by 1,010 points. Eastern Wyoming College, of Torrington, is third with 627 points.
Coe will go with a solid lineup for the opening rodeo. The club is led by senior Casey Reimler, of Rozet, the region’s top goat tyer. She also competes in the other two women’s events -- barrel racing and breakaway roping -- plus team roping.
Joining her on the four-member women’s team are freshmen Rachael Calvo, from Bassett, Neb.; Cheyenne’s Justene Hirsig; and Kelsey Lensegrav, from Interior, S.D.
Calvo, who is third in the barrel racing standings, also will compete in breakaway roping and goat tying. Hirsig is sitting fourth in breakaway roping and has jumped to third place in team roping. And Lensegrav is eighth in breakaway roping and 15th in barrel racing. She also competes in goat tying.
Coe is looking for the right combination on the men’s side of the ledger. The Cowboys started last fall in good shape but faltered in the final two rodeos to land in eighth place heading into the spring slate.
The Pokes have 955 points and trail defending regional champion Sheridan College, which has scored 1,735 points through four events. Gillette College is second with 1,525 points, and LCCC is third with 1,325 points.
Coe’s lineup will include JC Flake, of Mesa, Ariz., in team and tie-down roping, and steer wrestling; Coby Lane, of Torrington, in bull riding, and team and tie-down roping; Denton Shaw, from Lusk, in team roping; Jake Smith, of LaSalle, Colo., in bull riding; Dusty Taylor, from Craig, Colo., in team and tie-down roping; and entered in bareback riding and steer wrestling is Casper’s Brock Wahlert.
Lane has come through as the region’s top bull rider, while Smith, who won the title two seasons ago, is currently fourth; Wahlert is sixth in steer wrestling and eighth in bareback riding; Shaw is third in team roping with Hirsig; Flake is fifth in team roping; and Taylor is sixth in team roping with his brother Denton Taylor.
“I’m excited about the season. We have a lot of talent and a lot of opportunities to score points for both the men’s and women’s teams,” Coe says.