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Published June 11, 2018
It has come down to one ride for Jacob Smith: Cover, and he advances to Saturday’s short go at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR); fail to mark, and it means his University of Wyoming bull riding career is over.
The senior bull rider, from LaSalle, Colo., came into the second round of bull riding Monday seeded seventh after a successful opening 69.5-point performance Sunday. But his second ride lasted just four seconds, as “Teflon Don” jerked violently from right to left, leaving Smith off balance. He quickly slid off the right side of the bull for a no-score.
That summed up the second day of action for the four UW CNFR qualifiers: All four struggled in their respective events.
Smith was competing in the second round, and he drew a “quick and athletic bull.”
“He ran to the right coming out of the chute, and he made a move to the right. I went with him, and then he made a pretty good athletic move to switch directions and went away from my hand and bucked me off,” Smith says. “It’s kind of tough to ride when he makes a move like that. You’ve got to be in perfect condition to stay on a bull like that when he changes directions that quickly.”
Smith knows he has to mark on the last bull Wednesday night, or he fails to make the short go Saturday night at the Casper Events Center. Only the top 12 individuals in each event qualify for the championship round. It’s not uncommon for bull riders to cover two head and still advance to the short go.
Smith says he feels no pressure to mark on his third bull.
“I’ve just got to go out and ride to make the short go round and have a shot at it,” he says. “I know I’ll get something good to ride. I’ll go ride him and make the short round.”
The other three UW qualifiers saw action for the first time.
Team ropers Justene Hirsig and Denton Shaw were on their way to a good qualified time, but it fell apart after Hirsig managed to tie up the steer’s horns.
“A piece of rubber broke off my saddle horn, and I had to take another dally around, and that made things loose. Denton threw, and it just kind of took the loop out of his hands,” says Hirsig, a Cheyenne junior.
Shaw managed to catch both heels, but that extra slack in his hand tightened quickly, and the rope just sawed through his gloved hand, leaving it bleeding. Not being able to hang on to his own rope left the pair with a no-time.
“It seemed like it was going real fast. I kind of bobbled my slack, and I got my rope halfway around my saddle horn. I had a couple of fingers on the rope, but I couldn’t hang on to it,” says Shaw, a junior from Lusk. “We’re going to come back strong in the next round. My partner is the best around. We’ve got a lot more winning to go and hopefully make the short go.”
It wasn’t a good start for barrel racer Kelsey Lensegrav in her first CNFR appearance. The Interior, S.D., freshman bumped the second barrel, knocking it over, thus practically eliminating her from contention. She was assessed a 5-second penalty for the tipped barrel, which hurt her considerably because she recorded a 14.9-second time. The penalty left her with an official 19.9-second time.
Lensegrav says she felt her horse was getting around the second barrel in good shape, but her horse cut in a little too close.
“Usually you don’t knock them, but it’s just bad timing that it came down. After that, I just went for a good time -- you have to, especially here, it’s the CNFR,” she says. “Barrels is so competitive that you’re probably not going to come back for the short go because of the knock, but you never know. You just have to keep going for it.”
With 50 barrel racers competing, it will be tough for Lensegrav to be among the top 12 competitors advancing to Saturday’s short go.