Casper College freshman Makayla Seely won’t have to wait long to get her first College National Finals Rodeo barrel racing out of the way.

In fact, Seely will be turning the cloverleaf at the Casper Events Center before most people are even out of bed Monday morning. The Riverton native is the first competitor in the first event for Monday’s slack, which is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Seely said, “but I’m ready for it. I just have to run my own race.”

It was a strategy that worked all year for Seely, who finished third in the Central Rocky Mountain Region barrel racing standings and is the lone qualifier from the Casper College women’s team. She got off to a strong start with three top-3 finishes in the five fall rodeos.

After failing to place in the first three spring rodeos she regrouped to win Casper College’s Ropin’ and Riggin’ Days and finished sixth at the season-ending Laramie River Rendezvous to qualify for the CNFR.

“I think Makayla Seely has a great chance this week,” Casper College rodeo coach Jhett Johnson said. “She’s a great rider with a good horse and she’s the very first girl out. That’s good for her.

“Being a freshman and it being your first year in the finals, if you’re sitting back and watching these other girls go you start putting pressure on yourself. But when you’re first out you do the very best you can and then the other girls have to beat you.”

Seely agrees with her coach’s assessment.

“I don’t have to know what the other times are and I don’t have to see what the other horses are doing,” she said. “And being the first one out I get to be on top of the ground.”

She’ll also be on top of the leaderboard.

“She can call home and say, ‘I’m winning the rodeo.’” Johnson laughed.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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