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Published June 04, 2019
Even though more than half of the 10 University of Wyoming College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) qualifiers will compete in their first finals next week, that does not mean they lack experience, first-year Coach Beau Clark says.
For the first time in 13 years, UW qualified full six-man and four-woman teams for collegiate rodeo’s biggest event June 9-15 at the Casper Events Center. The Cowboys and Cowgirls enter the competition on a roll, having won their respective Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) divisions this past spring -- also 13 years since both clubs captured regional championships the same academic year.
Four of the six men’s team qualifiers will make their first trip to the CNFR, while half of the four women’s team members are new to the finals.
“This is a big stage for college rodeo, but the nice thing is that it is not the first time or 10th time all of our student-athletes have been in this situation. When you look at the resumes for all of the UW athletes who are going to the CNFR, there is a long list of competing on a big stage, whether it was high school sports, high school rodeo, college rodeo and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association,” Clark says. “They have taken a last shot to win a state championship in basketball; they have won the average at the Circuit Finals; they have team roped for $10,000-$50,000 prizes. We are taking a group of student-athletes to the CNFR who have stepped up numerous times in their athletic careers to be successful.”
The Cowboys led the CRMR from start to finish this season, compiling 5,061 total points, ranking 12th nationally, while the Cowgirls came from behind, winning the final three spring rodeos to notch 3,030 points, good for ninth among all collegiate teams. The College of Southern Idaho topped the men’s standing with 8,920 points, while Black Hills State University led the women’s standings with 6,200 points.
Going into the CNFR, UW has a handful of individuals ranked among the nation’s best, including breakaway roper Teisha Coffield. The Yuma, Colo., senior, a three-time finals qualifier, is the national leader in her specialty event. She easily won the regional breakaway roping title for the second time and is a goat tying threat. She earned enough points in both events to win the CRMR all-around crown. She scored the 10th most overall individual points among all national competitors.
Team ropers JC Flake and Caden Camp, both first-time CNFR qualifiers, are ranked among the top 20 team ropers. Flake, a Mesa, Ariz., senior, is the 15th best heeler, and Camp, a Belgrade, Mont., freshman, scored the 17th most points nationally this season. He also was the CRMR all-around reserve champion.
Three-time CNFR qualifier Denton Shaw, a Lusk senior, is ranked 20th nationally among all heelers.
Sophomore Rachael Calvo, from Bassett, Neb., enters her first CNFR as the nation’s fourth-best barrel racer after winning the regional title this past spring.
The Cowboys also bring in a strong contingent of team members: Ty Everson, a Helena, Mont., junior, is a three-time CNFR qualifier and was fourth in the CRMR all-around, scoring points in steer wrestling and roping events; Minot, N.D., junior Seth Peterson is making his first finals bid after winning the regional all-around title; and Jase Staudt, a Nathrop, Colo., junior, also is a first-time qualifier and had a successful roping season.
The other two Cowgirls competing are Kelsey Lensegrav, an Interior, S.D., sophomore, who has qualified for the CNFR both seasons, and first-time qualifier Payton Donnelly, an Elk Point, S.D., junior.
The men’s squad will send all timed event competitors to the CNFR -- no roughstock event qualifiers earned bids to the big show. However, Clark says that should not hamper his team’s chances of doing well next week.
“If we had roughstock guys or all timed event guys, things would still have to kind of go our way at the CNFR,” Clark says. “I have seen really good teams win very little and a long-shot team win a lot. Our guys have done a good job competing all year and, if we can draw on the good end of the cattle, we have guys who are very capable of executing their jobs at Casper.”
The women bring in a balanced team in all three women’s events.
“I think that we have two strong barrel racers in Rachael and Kelsey and two strong breakaway ropers in Teisha and Payton,” Clark says. “Teisha also is capable of tying goats with anyone. It will be fun to see how they do at the CNFR.”
The CNFR begins Sunday with two rounds of “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway” at 1 and 4 p.m. Two sections of slack are scheduled Monday and Tuesday at 7 a.m. The first of four straight nightly performances to wrap up three rounds of competition begins Tuesday, with the finals set for Saturday at 7 p.m. The short go features the top 12 individuals in each event.
Clark is optimistic about how his team will perform next week.
“I do believe that they have put in the body of work that it takes to be successful. I think they all are well-experienced for moments like this, and I think we have as good of a chance as any program to be very competitive,” he says. “If we are competitive or if we fall short is not a concern that I have as a coach. What they did all year in the classroom, community and arena continues to be impressive. At the end of the day, all we can ask for is their best effort and attitude.”
Clark was even more impressed with how well all UW team members performed in the classroom during the spring semester.
The team’s GPA for scholarship athletes during the spring semester was above 3.1, and the cumulative GPA was above 3.0. Nearly 10 student-athletes will be recognized as academic all-Americans for college rodeo this year, Clark says.