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Talkin' with Sal: Definitely our Cowgirls

Talkin' with Sal: Definitely our Cowgirls

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Oral Roberts won twice.

So did Loyola-Chicago.

So did Oregon State, which Wyoming beat in Corvallis in December.

But easily the biggest basketball story last weekend was the Wyoming Cowgirls, who played in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed. What that meant, unfortunately, was they were matched against a No. 3 seed, UCLA, which was shockingly bigger and stronger.

As happens whenever any Wyoming team does anything good, the entire state rallied behind the Cowgirls.

The Wyoming Elks, which for decades have sponsored local and state Hoop Shoot competitions for youth, wanted everyone to remember that Wyoming’s junior guard from Worland, Tommi Olson, won the national contest in 2009 as a 9-year-old, when she hit 24 of 25 shots.

In addition to Olson, the Cowgirls roster includes four other players from Wyoming — seniors Emily Buchanan of Yoder and Jaye Johnson of Casper, sophomore McKinley Bradshaw of Lyman and Paige Toomer of Encampment and Cody.

Two of the Wyoming coaching staff also have deep Wyoming roots — head coach Gerald Mattinson is from Rock Springs and assistant coach Fallon Lewis, who starred at Sheridan College and then as a Cowgirl, is from Dayton.

The Cowgirls earned their bid to the NCAA Tournament in the hardest way possible, winning four games in four days at the brutally fanless Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.

The future is unbelievably bright for the Cowgirls, who lose just three seniors. And if the recruiting wizards can find some big girls and get them in the first class weight room at UW, things will be that much better.

And speaking of weight rooms, most have heard the uproar about the inequities perceived at the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments. Social media, led by Oregon’s Sedona Prince and reinforced by longtime respected coach Dawn Staley, showed stunning visual images of the disparities in weight rooms, food tables and even swag bags.

One line of thought, erroneous in my opinion, is that in this strangest pandemic season, the tournament itself is a huge, huge reward.

The correct line of thinking, however, is that whatever is good for the guys should be good for the girls.

After all, it is 2021, long removed from 1972 when high school girls were given the choice of swimming or track — and that’s it.

Long removed from 1977 and a student sports information intern girl riding to an away game in a van or the head coach’s station wagon, keeping the team stats during the game, writing a release when the game was over and then helping with the team laundry.

March Madness is here with all of its jubilation and all of its flaws. And having the Cowgirls in it for even just one night was a great thing for the 307.

Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas.

Follow Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @wyosas.


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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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