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Published April 18, 2019
Seth Peterson and Teisha Coffield had different paths coming to the University of Wyoming. But, the road has been nothing but gold for the men’s and women’s rodeo programs.
The pair are leading both the men’s and women’s all-around -- for individuals scoring at least 200 points in more than one event -- in the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) heading into the final two rodeos of the season. In fact, with the duo scoring major points all season, the Cowboys have virtually wrapped up the CRMR men’s team title, while the Cowgirls are just 19 points behind Eastern Wyoming College in the women’s standings.
The Cowgirls last won the CRMR title during the 2008-09 season, while the men have been waiting much longer -- 13 years. It has been 13 years since both UW programs swept regional team honors in the same season.
“It’s awesome, because there is so much talent on both teams,” says Coffield, a Yuma, Colo., senior. “We deserve to send two teams to nationals. We put a lot of time into it. It’s just time for us to enjoy the success for all the hard work we’ve put in up to this point.”
Just the top two teams in both the men’s and women’s divisions send full clubs to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in June at the Casper Events Center.
The last time the UW men won the regional title, Peterson was just a grade-schooler. The Pokes are running away with the team title with a region-leading 4,120 points and enjoy a nearly 2,000-point advantage over two-time CRMR champion Sheridan College. Just the Casper College and UW home rodeos remain on the docket.
“I hope we don’t have bad weekends the next two rodeos and, if we don’t, we should have it locked up,” says Peterson, a Minot, N.D., junior majoring in agricultural business. “But, we’ve got three, four guys scoring 500, 700 points each weekend.”
Peterson has been with the UW program since former rodeo coach George Howard was the only one who recruited him straight out of high school. Competing at the national high school rodeo in Rock Springs, Peterson met Howard at a college fair.
His first two years at UW weren’t spectacular. Then, suddenly, Peterson has turned into a full-fledged all-around threat. Besides leading the region’s all-around, he also is fourth in tie down roping and fifth in both steer wrestling and in team roping with UW teammate Ty Everson, of Helena, Mont., as his heeler. Everson is fourth in the all-around standings.
If Peterson does win the all-around, he can pick which event he wants to compete in at the CNFR. However, he’s looking at the bigger picture. Peterson wants to qualify on his own in all three events. Individuals can automatically qualify for the CNFR by placing among the top two individuals in each men’s event during the regular season.
“I’ve had a good spring and a fall, too, and hopefully I can make it to the CNFR in all three of my events -- that’s the goal going into the last two rodeos. Even if I qualify for one or two would be pretty awesome,” he says. “My main goal is to win the all-around and to score the most points I can for our team.”
The Cowboys are winning the region without the help of roughstock points. For the majority of the season, the Pokes have relied on timed event competitors for their points teams. The UW men are loaded in steer wrestling, with six Pokes among the region’s top eight. Everson leads the pack.
The team has the top three heelers in the region in team roping and two of the three best headers. And two Cowboys are among the top four calf ropers. However, not all the UW competitors are on the six-man points team.
“We have a number of athletes who are in the race for the all-around. I think the all-around standings is a demonstration of our willingness to grind out our practice structure for the entirety of a year,” UW first-year Coach Beau Clark says. “UW rodeo is proud of how hard all of the athletes work. To see three people in the program have a chance at the all-around is very rewarding.”
Caden Camp, of Belgrade, Mont., is just 35 points behind Peterson in the all-around standings.
Clark says his young rough-stock riders -- John Birkholtz, from Fountain, Colo., and Laramie’s Garrett Nunn -- have been coming on strong late in the year. Even the men not on the points team have helped push everyone to do their best, adds Peterson.
“It’s just not the points team guys doing good every weekend. We have five or six guys in each event who seem to do well each weekend,” he says. “We sure dang push each other each night in practice. It’s cool that we root for the non-points guys to do well, and they root for us, too. When they do well, it takes points away from other teams, and then we score points for our team.”
For Coffield, who received her bachelor’s degree in biology while attending one year at Northeastern Junior College (NJC) in Sterling, Colo., and two years at Colorado State University-Pueblo, she has her final year of undergraduate eligibility left this season at UW. However, she’ll be granted one more year as a graduate student. She is enrolled in UW’s health services administration program.
She is the reigning CRMR breakaway roping champion and won the national high school title her sophomore year in goat tying. She has qualified for two previous CNFRs and is still looking to place among the leaders in her specialty event at the national competition. She did place sixth in goat tying her freshman season while attending NJC.
In her first year at UW, Coffield has turned into an all-around force; she again is the CRMR breakaway roping leader, enjoying a comfortable lead. She is making her way up the goat tying standings, sitting in sixth after a strong spring season.
“I’ve tied a lot of goats in high school, and that’s always been my mom’s favorite event,” she says. “If I had to choose any event for my mom, it would have to be goats.”
But, that always hasn’t been the case for the UW Cowgirl. During her freshman season, she rolled her ankle hitting the ground after dismounting from her horse. Since then, Coffield has struggled with ankle issues, which have hampered her success in goat tying.
“Since that first time I rolled my ankle, it’s been a struggle; it hurts to get off my horse, and I haven’t worked as hard on my goat tying,” she says. “I was in a really bad slump.”
That all changed when she came to UW. This season, UW rodeo athletes have access to the same trainers as UW’s Division I athletes.
“I found out my ankles don’t line up; my joints are a little bit off,” Coffield says. “The chiropractor can pop them back in, and now my ankles are aligned. The trainers also suggested that I wear braces to protect my ankles and to wear different shoes when I goat tie. It doesn’t hurt now to get off my horse, and there is more of a confidence boost for me.”
Her all-around efforts have helped the team to contend for the regional title.
“My dad always told me that all-around titles aren’t given away. You have to be successful in more than one event,” she says.
Coffield's teammate Rachel Calvo, a sophomore from Bassett, Neb., is the region’s top barrel racer. The pair has scored the bulk of the team’s points this season. Also chipping in on the points’ team are Kelsey Lensegrav, from Interior, S.D., and Cheyenne’s Justene Hirsig. Both have been on the points’ team all season.
Even non-points team members Lyndi Anderson, from Billings, Mont.; Lakken Bice, of Killdeer, N.D.; Bailey Butcher of Jelm; and Payton Donnelly, from Elk Point, S.D.; have helped the women’s team this season, Clark says.
Both Coffield and Peterson credit Clark for the teams’ success.
“He’s just one of the most positive people I have ever talked to. It’s all about upping our mental game and making us more confident in ourselves,” Coffield says.
Peterson adds that the team’s practices are intense and that Clark stresses executing the basic fundamentals.
“As of right now, it’s paying off for us,” Coffield adds. “But, rodeo is a humbling sport. You can be on Cloud Nine one week and, then the next weekend, you could be wondering if you should cut your ropes in half.”