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Published June 13, 2022
It was time for one of the University of Wyoming Cowgirl rodeo team members to step up at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) Monday at Casper’s Ford Wyoming Center.
With a full four-member women’s team -- all in goat tying -- qualifying for the CNFR, it was senior Faith Hoffman who set the pace for her teammates. The Kiowa, Colo., cowgirl tied her goat in a fast 5.9 seconds, tying for the second-best time of the first round during the first of two slack rounds.
“I can’t ask more from my horse, who worked great,” Hoffman said. “I went in there with my game plan and tried to focus on three things: Get off on my spot, keep my hips underneath me and finish my tie. It all worked out, and I’m tickled pink for 5.9. I’m just blessed to be here.”
Two of her UW teammates also got off to good starts to give the Cowgirls more scoring opportunities. Riata Day, from Fleming, Colo., followed up about an hour later with a 6.8-second time, and Kelsey Lensegrav, of Interior, S.D., was the next competitor up, stopping the clock in 7.0 seconds.
“My first one was OK. It was not the best, but it wasn’t the worst. I just wanted to go out there and make a smooth first run,” Day said. “I could have been more aggressive, but I guess that’s what tomorrow is for. In my next two rounds, I want to be more aggressive, lay it all out there and hopefully make it back to Saturday night.”
Taylour Latham, of Lapoint, Utah, was close to giving the Cowgirls four strong competitors in goat tying, but her goat managed to wiggle out of its tie to give Latham a no time. Day was the regional goat tying runner-up, followed by Latham and Lensegrav. Hoffman placed sixth during the regular season.
Overall, Hoffman expects the event to be tough the remainder of the week and is grateful to have good teammates.
“The goats here are phenomenal, and the girls tie real good,” she said. “My teammates are amazing. It’s exciting having the caliber of girls on the team around you all the time. So, it’s good to cheer them on to be successful.”
As for the UW men, it was a couple of steer wrestlers who helped elevate the team after a tough go earlier in the morning.
-- Austin Hurlburt, of Norfolk, Neb., finished 10th after the first round with a 6.5-second effort on his first head and is sitting 11th in the average.
“I’m happy with my time. I wish I could have done a little better, but I kind of expect a lot out of myself,” Hurlburt said. “The steers are really good, they’re a little fresher, so a guy has to get through this first round to know where everything is at and just go from there.”
-- Cam Jensen, from Hyannis, Neb., finished two places behind his UW teammate at 6.7 seconds and is 13th overall.
“I had some pretty big hopes coming into this thing, and it started out pretty solid with a good run. I just hope to get much better,” he said. He added that he and bulldogging teammates Hurlburt and Chadron Coffield push each other every day in practice.
“Rodeo, in general, everybody is kind of a family, but especially in bulldogging. The guys help each other,” he said. “We get some good notes on the steers; we try to help our buddies out and let them know what they got, which helps them get the upper hand. At the end of the day, if they do good and I don’t, I’m still happy for them. It works out pretty good.”
-- Coffield, of Yuma, Colo., came out of the box in great shape, catching his calf in a competitive time in tie down roping. However, the calf butted Coffield, and the senior roper had trouble flanking the calf, costing him valuable seconds. Coffield stopped the clock in 13.3 seconds on his first CNFR run, putting him in the top 20 after the first run.
-- Brice Patterson, of Bozeman, Mont., rode a hard-bucking Whiskey River to a 72-point mark in bareback riding to complete a two-head total of 145.5 points.
In his second event later in the morning, Patterson had a rough start in steer wrestling. The freshman caught up with his steer about halfway down the arena but couldn’t stop the steer’s momentum and had difficulty turning the steer’s head to turn it over. He finally did, but recorded a 15.5-second time.
-- Well on to his way to a high-scoring ride, senior Garrett Uptain was looking good for seven seconds, doing everything right. But then Midnight took a stutter step kick that knocked the Craig, Colo., cowboy off balance and onto the arena dirt at the 7.02-second mark. He scored 63.5 points the day before.
And, his tough morning stretched to early afternoon. The senior was knocked off Whiskey Trip, marking the second straight day he did not make the bull riding 8-second buzzer.
After the completion of Monday’s first round, the UW Cowgirls are 10th in the national standings with 65 points. Texas Tech University-Lubbock and Weatherford (Texas) College lead the early women’s race with 160 points apiece. The UW men’s team is sitting 28th overall with 30 points as compared to McNeese State University’s leading 305 points.