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Published June 08, 2021
Entering next week’s College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, a grueling weeklong event, won’t change the mindset of the University of Wyoming teams, says UW Coach Beau Clark.
More than 400 student-athletes representing 11 regions across the nation will compete June 13-19 at the Ford Wyoming Center (formerly the Casper Events Center) for the first time since the 2019 CNFR. Last year’s finals were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year’s CNFR marks the return of collegiate rodeo’s main event to Casper, where the finals have been held since 1999.
UW’s teams enter the CNFR as the three-time Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) champions. The Cowboys and Cowgirls will have at least one student-athlete in nine of the 10 men’s and women’s events. Only bull riding will be without a UW representative. Five men will represent the Cowboys at the CNFR, while the women will send four points team members to Casper.
Clark, who has led the UW program to regional titles in his three years at the helm, says his teams will approach the CNFR the same way they have the entire season.
“It doesn’t really change at all. The UW rodeo program is all about doing your job and executing the most basic fundamentals at a high level,” he says. “This year’s group is very experienced, and I know they will be mentally prepared to do their best.”
This will be the most balanced teams for both the men and women going into the finals during Clark’s tenure. The Cowgirls won nine of 10 rodeos, while the Cowboys took six of 10 spring and fall events. UW student-athletes individually won seven of the nine men’s and women’s events.
UW Cowgirls swept all three women’s events. Regional event champions were:
-- All-around: Faith Hoffman, from Kiowa, Colo., who also won the goat tying event.
-- Breakaway roping: Brandy Schaack, of Hyannis, Neb.
-- Barrel racing: Karson Bradley, from Big Piney.
Taylour Latham, from Roosevelt, Utah, was the goat tying runner-up.
UW men’s CRMR event champions were:
-- All-around: Jase Staudt, from Nathrop, Colo., who combined with partner JC Flake, of Gillette College, to win the team roping title. Staudt also won the tie down roping event.
-- Bareback riding: Donny Proffit, of Kemmerer.
-- Saddle bronc riding: Garrett Uptain, from Craig, Colo.
Seth Peterson, of Minot, N.D., was the CRMR steer wrestling runner-up.
Representing the UW women at the CNFR on the four-member points team will be Bradley in barrel racing; Hoffman in breakaway roping and goat tying; Latham in goat tying; and Schaack in breakaway roping. Hailey Hardeman, from Jackson, also qualified for the CNFR in breakaway roping after moving from seventh to third in the final regional standings, but her points will not count toward the Cowgirls’ overall team scores. Only six men and four women are on the official points teams.
Qualifying for the men’s CNFR team are Chadron Coffield, from Yuma, Colo., and Peterson, both in calf roping and steer wrestling; Proffit in bareback riding; Staudt in team and tie down roping; and Uptain in saddle bronc riding.
Overall depth will help the Cowboys and Cowgirls at the CNFR, Clark says.
“Our men will get to compete in two extra events, and the women will get one extra event. It’s nice to have a few more bullets in your gun at the CNFR,” he says. “The nice thing this year is that everyone on our team has a ton of experience. They want to be as successful as anyone there is, but I think their maturity will help them keep in perspective what they are doing and be prepared to be their best version of themselves. It is a really great group to take to the national finals.”
With plenty of depth and a veteran group, UW is among schools that will be considered favorites to win national titles in both the men’s and women’s divisions. The Cowgirls have won five CNFR titles -- three in the 1990s, and again in 2007 and 2009. The Cowboys won their only national title in 1961.
“It’s dang sure a challenge to win the whole thing, but this group is as prepared and mature as any team going. All we can do is control what is in our control and see what happens,” Clark says. “If this group wins everything or doesn’t have much luck, it won’t define them as individuals or a team. They are an amazing group of UW rodeo athletes who will do their best. I am extremely proud of all of them and the effort they have given to UW rodeo during their careers.”