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Published September 12, 2023
If rival Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) teams want to dethrone the University of Wyoming rodeo teams from the top positions, they will have to deal with what appears to be another competitive program once again.
The Cowboys and Cowgirls will field two strong, veteran teams that return plenty of competitors who have seen action in the CRMR and also on the big stage -- the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
The UW men have won the region five straight seasons. Despite finishing as the CRMR runners-up a season ago, the UW women have taken the CRMR title four of the past five years. They were third in the nation at last June’s CNFR.
“We are going with an experienced lineup for the first rodeo of the year. Being a head coach for the last five years has given me a pretty good lay of the landscape in the Central Rocky Mountain Region,” says first-year head UW rodeo Coach Seth Glause who led the Laramie County Community College program since 2018. “The exciting thing about being at UW is that a lot of our student-athletes have competed in the region and know what to expect. Our senior leaders can really help our freshmen and give them guidance on how each rodeo is set up to give themselves a great opportunity to win.”
The Cowboys return a solid group heading into the opening rodeo this weekend at Chadron State College.
Selected for the six-man points team are veterans Cameron Jensen, from Bingham, Neb., in steer wrestling, and team and tie down roping; Bodie Mattson, of Sturgis, S.D., in team and tie down roping; Rio Nutter, from Rapid City, S.D., in steer wrestling, and team and tie down roping; and Jacob Wang, of Baker, Mont., in steer wrestling and team roping. Also in the lineup will be part-time points team member Kaden Berger, of Saratoga, in steer wrestling, and team and tie down roping; and newcomer David Gallagher, from Brighton, Colo., in the same three events.
Waiting in the wings is past CRMR champion and CNFR qualifier bareback rider Brice Patterson, of Bozeman, Mont., who had shoulder surgery during the offseason. He is not expected back until the spring season.
The Cowboys’ experience will show this season. Jensen is the defending CRMR all-around and tie down roping champion; Mattson was the region’s top team roping header and was the CRMR all-around runner-up. He placed fourth in tie down roping at last season’s CNFR, and Wang took the steer wrestling title in regional competition.
The UW women also return an experienced lineup with the return of two members from last year’s third-place CNFR team: Kenna McNeill, of Hobbs, N.M., who split third place in goat tying at the college finals. She also will compete this season in breakaway roping and barrel racing. Thermopolis’ Emme Norsworthy returns in barrel racing, where she placed fifth in the CNFR competition.
A third CNFR qualifier from a year ago also returns: Gillette’s Sage Kohr, who did not place but is the defending regional champion in breakaway roping and barrel racing. She also was the CRMR’s reserve all-around winner. The fourth member of this weekend’s four-member women’s team is veteran Riata Day, from Fleming, Colo., in all three women’s events -- goat tying, breakaway roping and barrel racing.
“Our student-athletes look ready to compete at a high level. I expect them to come out firing on all cylinders,” Glause says. “I believe once we are healthy on both ends of the arena, we will be very solid.”
A former CNFR qualifier himself during his collegiate career, Glause has high expectations coming into the split fall and spring seasons.
“UW has a history of success in the past several years. One of our team goals is to win the region this year for both the men and the women,” he says. “This weekend will give us a good gauge of where we are and what we need to do to accomplish those goals.”