The Casper College men’s rodeo team entered last weekend’s Laramie River Rendezvous — the final rodeo of the Central Rocky Mountain Region season — on the outside looking in.
The Thunderbirds were fourth in the regional team standings, with only the top two teams qualifying for June’s College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.
“There was a line in the sand,” Casper College rodeo coach Jhett Johnson said. “We knew we had to come out and have a real good weekend.”
The T-Birds did just that, winning the rodeo with 550 points — their second-highest point total of the season. And when the two teams directly above them in the standings stumbled, the red-vested T-Birds vaulted to second in the final standings.
Casper College finished with 3,610 points for the season, while Gillette College totaled 3,600 and Laramie County Community College had 3,460. Sheridan College repeated as regional champion with 4,055 points.
“With it being the final rodeo we stayed right there to the bitter end to go over the points,” Johnson said. “We knew it was going to be pretty nip and tuck.
“When we found out we finished second all the guys were pretty excited.”
As was the case for most of the season, Casper College’s ropers scored the majority of the points for the T-Birds. Trey Yates teamed with Gillette College’s Kellan Johnson, Jhett Johnson’s son, to win the team roping while teammates Wheaton Williams (Big Horn) and Jerren Johnson (Casper) placed sixth. And in tie-down roping, both Logan Brown and Wyatt Tarver scored points.
The team’s final points from the weekend came from Zach Thomas, who finished second in bareback bronc riding.
“All six guys I had on the team scored points in the long go-round,” Jhett Johnson said. “They all stepped up.”
While the 550 points those six scored were impressive, Johnson was just as impressed with the performances of saddle bronc rider J.W. Meiers (Mills) and tie-down roper Owen Wahlert.
Meiers finished fourth in his event while Wahlert was second in his thanks to a blazing 8.6-second run in the short go. Even though their points didn’t count toward the T-Birds’ team total — coaches can only designate six cowboys whose points count toward the team standings at each rodeo — their finishes meant other cowboys didn’t get those points for their team.
“I can’t say enough about what J.W. and Owen did,” Johnson said. “Without those guys doing what they did we probably wouldn’t have won and we probably wouldn’t have finished second overall.”
Based on the final standings, in which the top three cowboys and cowgirls in each event qualify for the CNFR, the T-Birds were already looking at sending four cowboys to the season-ending rodeo. Yates finished second in the heeling standings Jerren Johnson and Williams were No. 2 in team roping and Brown, who was fifth in tie-down entering the weekend, vaulted to No. 3 in the final standings.
But the second-place finish also means Meiers and Thomas will be joining their teammates at the Events Center next month. Meiers finished sixth in saddle bronc and Thomas was sixth in bareback, but both will be on the T-Birds team at the college finals.
“We’ll have a lot of people at the Events Center,” Jhett Johnson said. “It gives us some good momentum and it give us a certain amount of confidence for next fall.”
The reason for that is simple: all but Meiers will be back competing for the T-Birds next season.
While the men’s team race went down to the final weekend, Gillette College rode away with the women’s title.
The Pronghorns finished with 3,640 points runner-up Eastern Wyoming College had 2,080.3.
Gillette College’s Rickie Engesser won the all-around title, placing third in barrel racing and breakaway roping and sixth in goat tying, with teammate Taylour Latham finishing as the reserve all-around champ.
The Pronghorns also had top-five finishes from Quincy Segelke (breakaway), Riley Addington (barrel racing) and Latham (goat tying).
Laramie River Rendezvous
Team: Casper College 550, Central Wyoming College 445, Gillette College 395, Sheridan College 335, Otero Junior College 290, Chadron State College 260, Laramie County Community College 145, Northeastern Junior College 140, Eastern Wyoming College 120, University of Wyoming 100, Lamar Community College 20.
Bareback Bronc Riding: Chance Ames, SC, 157 points Zach Thomas, CC, 145 Thomas Davis, CWC, 141 Brock Wahlert, UW, 140 Rowdy Moon, CSC, 138.
Saddle Bronc Riding: Lane Schuelke, SC, 147 points Mason Mardesich, OJC, 146 Wyatt Schuelke, EWC, 146 JW Meiers, CC, 141 Rhett Fanning, GC, 79 Jacob Kammerer, GC 79.
Bull Riding: James Butterfield, CSC, 85 points Ty Ward, SC, 72 Tyrell Fisk, GC, 81 Kody Aldrich, OJC, 80 Drew Asbury, UW, 71.
Steer Wrestling: Brady Thurston, CWC, 9.9 seconds Taylor Davidson, CWC, 11.3 Cole Trainor, CWC, 11.6 Tate Mathis, LCCC, 11.8 Prestyn Novak, CSC, 12.2.
Tie-Down Roping: JD Kirwan, GC, 19.7 seconds Owen Wahlert, CC, 19.9 Logan Brown, CC, 20.0 Kalane Anders, CSC, 21.5 Seth Andersen, GC, 22.1.
Team Roping: Kellan Johnson, GC/Trey Yates, CC, 12.2 seconds Cooper White, GC/Austin Crist, OJC, 13.4 Justene Hirsig/Denton Shaw, UW, 19.7 Cody Darnell/McKlain Sullivan, NJC, 6.8 Brooke Howell/Myles Kenzy, GC, 6.8.
Team: University of Wyoming 235, Laramie County CC 215, Gillette College 205, Chadron State College 195, Northeastern JC 180, Eastern Wyoming College 175, Colorado State University 165, Sheridan College 155, Central Wyoming College 110, Casper College 15.
Barrel Racing: Lakken Bice, SC, 29.04 seconds Lake Mehalic, CSU, 29.04 Rachael Calvo, UW, 29.13 Karson Bradley, CWC, 29.48 Kelsey Lensegrav, UW, 29.63.
Breakaway Roping: Bailey Brown, LCCC, 4.8 seconds Kelsey Lensegrav, UW, 5.8 Marisa Cominiello, CSC, 6-0 Konnar Knotwell, LCCC, 6.0 Megan Ebert, CC, 6.6.
Goat Tying: Faith Hoffman, NJC, 13.5 seconds Karissa Rayhill, EWC, 14.4 Quincy Segelke, GC, 14.7 Taylour Latham, GC, 14.9 Brandi Cwach, CSC, 15.8.
Final CRMR Standings
Team: Sheridan College 4,055 Casper College 3,610 Gillette College 3,600 Laramie County Community College 3,460 Chadron State College 3,055 Central Wyoming College 3,020 University of Wyoming 2,690 Northeastern Junior College 1,980 Otero Junior College 1,765 Eastern Wyoming College 1,695 Lamar Community College 465 Colorado State University 150.
All-Around: Thomas Davis, CWC, 1,185 Austin Hurlburt, LCCC, 950 Brady Thurston, CWC, 925 Logan Brown, CC, 920 Brock Wahlert, UW, 895.
Bareback Bronc Riding: Chance Ames, SC, 1,235 Rowdy Moon, CSC, 895 Thomas Davis, CWC, 715 Hunter Carlson, SC, 640 Brock Wahlert, UW, 600.
Saddle Bronc Riding: Mason Mardesich, OJC, 950 Lane Schuelke, SC, 740 Carter Elshere, GC, 598.3 Rhett Fanning, GC, 595 Houston Brown, LCCC, 430.
Bull Riding: Jacob Smith, UW, 500 Nate Hoey, LCC, 465 K’s Thomson, SC, 400 Coby Lane, UW, 395 Ty Ward, SC, 350.
Steer Wrestling: Taylor Davidson, CWC, 575 Thomas Davis, CWC, 470 Kalane Anders, CSC, 460 Prestyn Novak, CSC, 455 Devin Dibbern, CSC, 445 Brady Thurston, CWC, 445.
Tie-Down Roping: Austin Hurlburt, LCCC, 645 Cody Darnell, NJC, 530 Logan Brown, CC, 515 Jace Staudt, NJC, 445 Cody Henderson, SC, 390.
Team Roping (header): Kellan Johnson, GC, 1,010 Wheaton Williams, CC, 650 Justene Hirsig, UW, 645 Cooper White, GC, 520 Braden Pirrung, EWC, 470.
Team Roping (heeler): Trey Yates, CC, 930 Jerren Johnson, CC, 650 Denton Shaw, UW, 645 Riley Curuchet, EWC, 470 Logan Brown, CC, 405.
Team: Gillette College 3,640 Eastern Wyoming College 2,080.3 University of Wyoming 1,943.3 Laramie County Community College 1,400 Central Wyoming College 1,330 Casper College 905 Colorado State University 755 Chadron State College 687 Sheridan College 665 Northeastern Junior College 625 Colorado State University-Pueblo 530 Lamar Community College 342 Otero Junior College 65.
All-Around: Rickie Engesser, GC, 1,370 Taylour Latham, GC, 1,170 Justene Hirsig, UW, 935 Quincy Segelke, GC, 830 Casey Reimler, UW, 743.3.
Barrel Racing: Lake Mehalic, CSU, 755 Kelsey Lensegrav, UW, 525 Rickie Engesser, GC, 490 Riley Addington, GC, 450 Lakken Bice, SC, 445.
Breakaway Roping: Teisha Coffield, CSUP, 495 Quincy Segelke, GC, 485 Rickie Engesser, GC, 400 Bailey Brown, LCCC, 390 Casey Reimler, UW, 310.
Goat Tying: Karissa Rayhill, EWC, 757 Taylour Latham, GC, 705 Jacey Thompson, EWC, 645 Faith Hoffman, NJC, 575 Kaycee Monnens, CC, 525.