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Published September 14, 2022
After winning four straight Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) titles, the University of Wyoming rodeo teams want to take it to the next level.
“We know how to win the region, and this group is as talented and as important as any of the ones before them. I know they can do that,” says Beau Clark who has won the CRMR with both the men’s and women’s programs in each of his four years at UW. “I’ll trade a regional championship for the preparation it takes to win the nation. I don’t know what will happen along the way, but it is not our focus to be the best in the region -- we want to be the best in the nation.”
It begins this weekend when the Cowboys and Cowgirls open the fall portion of their season at the Chadron State College Rodeo in Chadron, Neb.
“I am excited about what we are doing and where we are going this year. We are building one thing a day for the next 10 months, and we are controlling what we can control,” Clark says. “We are learning how to have a process and routine that bring out the optimal competitor in each individual athlete. We are sharing our focus with each other, and we are doing big things. It has been an incredible four weeks of practice, and we are just getting started with the process that we are set to follow the next 10 months.”
It is a long haul to prepare for the year-end College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) next June in Casper. Five regional rodeos are set in both the fall and spring seasons, with the top two men’s and women’s teams advancing to the CNFR.
With high team and individual goals, the Cowboys and Cowgirls will return a solid nucleus of veterans for both clubs.
Returning for the men’s teams are past CNFR qualifiers Cameron Jensen, from Hyannis, Neb.; Brice Patterson, of Bozeman, Mont.; and Kemmerer’s Donny Proffit. Both Jensen and Patterson are multiple-event competitors, with Patterson holding the title of returning CRMR all-around champion. All have won individual regional event titles.
Clark says he does not have a six-man points’ team set for this weekend, but he adds that at least seven other UW team members are in the mix to join the returning veterans.
“Again, we have great talent on both sides of the arena, and we are looking forward to the entire year,” he says.
Just like the men’s team, the Cowgirls have several returning past CNFR qualifiers in Riata Day, from Fleming, Colo.; Jackson’s Hailey Hardeman; Faith Hoffman, from Kiowa, Colo.; and Kelsey Lensegrav, of Interior, S.D. Three of them have won individual regional event titles during their UW careers. Besides the returning veterans, six others also are being considered for the four-person women’s points team.
“Our women’s team is strong, and we are focused on individual growth as a team,” Clark says. “So many have stood out the last four weeks, and they are all growing on a daily basis.”
He adds that the mix of returning competitors and newcomers already has strengthened the overall UW program.
“It will unfold throughout the year, and we will know more how they will impact our program in four to five months. We will be different in March and April,” Clark says. “This is going to be a journey, and our focus is not on Chadron this weekend but what we can build during the entire year.”
With an emphasis on setting goals, Clark has changed, in subtle ways, how the teams approach the season, even bringing in a mental strength coach -- Donene Taylor, of Glenrock.
“Donene has had a big impact on our team, and I am excited to build with her this year and, hopefully, many to come,” Clark says. He also has added Kade Russow as the director of rodeo operations and marketing.
With the season beginning this weekend, Clark expects another competitive CRMR, but the year is all about the road to Casper and the CNFR.
“We are going to focus on controlling what we can control. We do not have any control over the other teams and the successes they will have,” he says. “We are going to build as individuals and as a team during the year. We are going to control what we can and build this out for an entire year.”