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Published April 14, 2022
When is the last time local fans can say that they saw the top-ranked college sports team in the nation competing in their backyard?
Fans have that opportunity when the University of Wyoming men’s rodeo team -- ranked No. 1 among all National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association teams across 11 regions nationwide -- hosts the annual Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo Friday-Sunday, April 22-24, at the indoor Cliff and Martha Hansen Livestock Teaching Arena southwest of Laramie. The Cowboys also boast several national leaders in their respective individual events.
The rodeo will feature the top competitors and teams from the 12-member Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) in the regular-season finale leading up to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) this summer in Casper.
With just the home rodeo left, the UW men’s team has opened its national lead against second-place Missouri Valley College from Marshall, Mo. The Cowboys have a school-record 7,545 points accumulated through nine fall and spring rodeos, while the Vikings from the Ozark Region are nearly 400 points back with 7,175, also with one rodeo left on their schedule. In third place is the College of Southern Idaho of Twin Falls, Idaho, with 6,235 points.
“It’s really an exciting group of boys to watch. They are all capable of winning their events,” UW Coach Beau Clark says about his No. 1 nationally ranked team. “It’s been fun to watch them battle all year. I hope the community comes out to support one of the nation’s best college rodeo programs.”
The Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo has several other stories of interest to rodeo fans.
In his four years leading the UW rodeo program, Clark has led the men’s team to four straight CRMR team titles, while his women’s team is the three-time defending regional champion and is closing in on its fourth straight title. The UW women currently lead the CRMR with 2,385 points and are attempting to hold off second-place Gillette College, which has 2,195 points.
Local rodeo fans will be treated to the top 16 performers in each of the men’s six and the women’s three events during the Friday and Saturday night performances, both beginning at 6 p.m. The short go (finals) is 10 a.m. Sunday.
Some other highlights for the weekend rodeo will include ramping up the atmosphere for fans, including pyrotechnics and a large-screen video, something that is provided for the CNFR each year.
“We’re trying to duplicate what is done at the CNFR,” Clark says.
The Friday and Saturday slack rounds are at noon and 8 a.m., respectively, and are free. The Friday and Saturday night ticket prices are $20 for all attendees. Sunday’s short go is Family Day, with all tickets available for $10. To purchase tickets, go to the UW rodeo team’s Facebook page or call the UW Athletics ticket office at (307) 766-7220. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
“With the final rodeo in Laramie, it should be a lot of fun to watch our teams battle for championships and qualifications to the CNFR,” Clark says.
Only the top two teams in the region in both the men’s and women’s divisions qualify for the CNFR as well as the top three individuals in each event. Several UW team members are battling for individual event titles.
For the men:
-- Teammates Brice Patterson, from Bozeman, Mont., and Garrett Uptain, from Craig, Colo., are locked in a tight battle for the all-around, which goes to an individual who has scored qualifying points in two or more events. Patterson has scored 1,740 points in nine rodeos, while Uptain is just 30 points back. The teammates are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the national all-around standings.
-- Patterson is attempting to hold off teammate Donny Proffit, of Kemmerer, in bareback riding. Patterson is leading with 1,370 points -- just 35 ahead of Proffit, the defending regional champion. The two teammates also are running first and second in the national standings.
-- Uptain has the chance to win two individual events. He is the top-rated saddle bronc rider, with nearly a 200-point lead over Casper College’s Quinten Taylor, and is third in bull riding, just 30 points behind leader Stefan Tonita, of Laramie County Community College. Uptain also is the national saddle bronc riding leader over Taylor.
-- Chadron Coffield, of Yuma, Colo., is the region’s top tie down roper with 540 points, while runner-up Linkyn Petersek, from Casper College, sits second with 460. Coffield also is sixth in bulldogging. He is sixth in the all-around, giving the Cowboys five multiple event competitors among the top six in the region.
-- Austin Hurlburt, of Norfolk, Neb., is another event leader for the Cowboys. He heads the steer wrestling pack by a comfortable margin, while Patterson has a chance to move up from his fourth-place position. Hurlburt is sixth in tie down roping and also is fourth in the all-around.
-- Cameron Jensen, of Hyannis, Neb., is fifth in the all-around standings and has a chance to move up in two individual events. He is third in steer wrestling and fifth in tie down roping.
The strength of the UW women’s team has been its steady scoring in all three events, but goat tying is the only competition where the Cowgirls have individuals in regional title contention. In fact, UW has three team members who have all won regional titles in the event during their careers.
Riata Day, of Fleming, Colo., is attempting to hang on to second place with her 595 points, which trails Eastern Wyoming College’s Karissa Rayhill by 315 points. That leaves teammates Taylour Latham, of Roosevelt, Utah, and Faith Hoffman, from Kiowa, Colo., trying to gain the last of the three automatic qualifying positions. Latham currently is third in the region with 530 points, and Hoffman is fifth at 425.
The Cowgirls currently have the 12th-most points among all national teams, with Cal Poly State University-San Luis Obispo leading the pack with 4,078 points.