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Published April 24, 2018
The University of Wyoming’s 69th annual Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo will have added meaning this weekend: The women’s team still has a chance to send a full team to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), and the home rodeo marks the first time in 20 years that the competition will be held without Coach George Howard.
Performances at the Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena are scheduled Friday, April 27, at 7 p.m.; at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28; and the short go is 11 a.m. Sunday, April 29.
Cost for each performance is $10 at the door or $8 in advance. UW students, with ID, will receive a $5 discount. Students will be admitted free during the Saturday 1 p.m. performance. Tickets are available at Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, and Martindale’s Western Store.
Also, for UW students during the Friday and Saturday night performances, the first 50 students will receive free cover passes to see Tris Munsick and the Innocents performing at the Cowboy Saloon and Dance Hall after the rodeos.
A memorial tribute also is planned this weekend for Howard, who unexpectedly died late last semester in Converse County. Howard had been UW’s rodeo coach for 20 years; his three-year assistant, Lydia Coe, has been the interim coach during the spring season. Current Laramie County Community College (LCCC) Coach Beau Clark will head the UW program after this summer’s CNFR.
“We are hoping to put on one of the best rodeos of the season this weekend and provide great stock for the competitors to have a chance to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo,” Coe says.
Qualifying for the CNFR as a team for the UW women is still in play, but the Cowgirls will need a stronger effort than the last three rodeos. The last month has left the Cowgirls desperately needing a win this weekend in order to qualify a full four-person team to the CNFR.
Just the top two Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) teams will punch their way to collegiate rodeo’s biggest event. With just the home rodeo left on the slate, UW needs to make up some serious points. Gillette College wrapped up the women’s title weeks ago with a leading 3,435 points. Second place is a fight between runner-up Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) and the UW women.
The Lancers have steadily pulled away from the Cowgirls late in the season, building a 197-point cushion going into UW’s home rodeo. EWC has scored 1,905.33 points through nine events, while UW has 1,708.33.
Barring a total collapse, the Sheridan College men will repeat as regional champions. The Generals have 3,720 points, while surprising LCCC is second with 3,315 points. But, perennial regional power Gillette College is within the coveted second-place position, sitting 110 points behind the Golden Eagles. The Cowboys remain in the sixth-place slot with 2,590 points.
If UW does not send full teams to the CNFR, a handful of individuals will still earn postseason bids. The top three individuals in each event receive automatic bids to the CNFR.
LaSalle, Colo., senior Jake Smith, who won the regional bull riding title two years ago, again heads the field. Teammate Coby Lane, of Torrington, is just five points out of the No. 3 slot.
Lusk’s Denton Shaw and header partner Justene Hirsig, from Cheyenne, are holding on to third place in team roping, with an 80-point lead over the No. 4 team. Hirsig also is splitting fifth place in the overall breakaway roping regional standings.
Teammate Kelsey Lensegrav, of Interior, S.D., has worked her way to second place in barrel racing, with teammate Rachel Calvo, from Bassett, Neb., three places back. Rozet’s Casey Reimler is close to a CNFR berth, sitting fourth in breakaway roping. She’s the highest-ranked UW competitor in goat tying in sixth place.
During last week’s Ropin’ and Riggin’ Days Rodeo, hosted by Casper College, the UW men finished seventh, while the Cowgirls were sixth. Regional leaders Sheridan College and Gillette College won their respective men’s and women’s titles.
For the men, Casper senior Brock Wahlert placed third in bareback riding; Smith was fourth in the bull riding average; and Shaw and Hirsig were third in team roping.
Even though she was not selected for the four-member UW women’s team, Lensegrav won both rounds of the barrel racing competition to place first in the average. The Cowgirls’ points came from Hirsig in team roping and Kailee Webb, of Isabel, S.D., in barrel racing.