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UW Bronc Riders Record Mixed Bag on Opening Day at CNFR

June 13, 2022

The University of Wyoming’s roughstock riders were a large part of the Cowboys’ team success this year, dominating in the Central Rocky Mountain Region.

UW’s three competitors all marked in the opening round of the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper Sunday, but it was not enough to score team points.

Both Brice Patterson and Donny Proffit scored in the low 70s in bareback riding to end the first round of competition among the top 17 riders, while Garrett Uptain had a day that he wished he could do over.

After watching for more than two hours in the first performance of “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway,” Patterson knew what kind of score he needed to be among the top bareback riders. It did not play out that way, but the Bozeman, Mont., freshman got on the scoreboard with a solid 73.5 points on Pine Valley.

“I was looking to be first on this ride, but it lacked a little bit of horsepower. I was just planning on going out there and giving it 100 percent of what I got,” Patterson said. “I would have liked a better score -- I can’t take it back -- I mean, of course, you’d like to be higher than that, but it’s got me in a good spot in the round, and I’m just eager for my second horse.”

His second ride is during this morning’s (Monday) slack, and his third attempt in his quest to make Saturday’s short go will be in Thursday night’s performance. He also will compete in steer wrestling.

Proffit, from Kemmerer, wanted to improve on what he did at last year’s CNFR, where an injury hampered him through the entire week. He finished 11th and, coming into this year’s finals, Proffit was injury free.

He got on the scoreboard with a 71.5-point ride on Medicine River, a strong mare with plenty of jumping and kicking ability.

“I could have ridden her a little bit better, but she kind of got away from me,” Proffit said while peeling off the tape on his forearm behind the bucking chutes at the Ford Wyoming Center.

As Medicine River bucked, Proffit’s rigging rope kept pulling hard on his hand, throwing off his control and timing, costing him several points.

“If that rigging goes, it pulls on your arm pretty hard,” he said. “I just kept trying, and that’s all you can do here. This is a three-head deal, and I’ve got to score more. I’ll take this score for now and build on it from here on.”

He will mount up again during Tuesday morning’s slack and will wrap up his third ride later that night. After that, it’s a long waiting game to see if he qualifies for Saturday night’s short go. Only the top individuals in men’s and women’s events advance to the finals.

It was a tough day for Uptain, a two-event competitor. The nation’s top saddle bronc rider, from Craig, Colo., put up a shocking 61.5 points on his first horse late Sunday afternoon. He rode Bubble Gum to the eight-second buzzer but had no rhythm or could not get any jumping action out of his ride, leaving him frustrated.

“I did not ride anywhere near where I have been. I had a bad day,” he said dejectedly. “This is not what I expected. I should have ridden a whole lot better. I kind of got stuck with my feet and was not spurring. It definitely reflected on my score, and I need to do better in my next few rounds.”

He will turn around quickly for his next ride when he competes in today’s slack and completes his third round during Thursday’s performance.

Earlier, Uptain was tossed barely three seconds into his first bull riding attempt when Spiderman spun sharply after taking a hard jump, giving the senior a no score. Uptain will be up again during today’s slack, and his third and final head will be Friday.

The other UW men’s and women’s team members see their first action during two rounds of slack.

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