The fourth time is still a special one for Kirbie Crouse. No matter how many times the 2016 breakaway champion comes to the College National Finals Rodeo, she still gets butterflies. Her secret to combat them is serenity.
In other words, Kirbie Crouse has found peace.
“I’ve just learned to take everything one day at a time, one round at a time and just let everything play out like it’s supposed to be and be calm,” Crouse said. “Every run I’ve just tried to stay calm and if it ends up being fast or if it ends up being slower, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s caught.”
The Missouri Valley College standout finished Tuesday night’s performance at the Casper Events Center in sole possession of first with breathing room between herself and second place.
Crouse had a 2.6-second run Tuesday night to bring her average to 7.8 seconds on three head. Northwest Oklahoma State’s Brandi Hollenbeck, who won Tuesday night’s performance with a 2.5 sits in second with an 8.9 on three head.
Crouse wasn’t able to capture back-to-back championships last year but two out of three would work fine for her.
“It just feels really good to be back out here and able to have another chance at it,” she said.
Samantha Chick stole some of the shine in Tuesday’s slack with a 2.0, which was just one-tenth of a second off the arena record.
“I had some tough luck on the first one,” she said. “They actually let my calf out while I was riding in the box so then I had to run the extra calf and he ended up out-running me really bad so I knew with the second one I wanted to win the round.”
Confidence carried Ty Harris to the 2018 College National Finals Rodeo. He’s hoping it carries him through Saturday evening at the Events Center.
One of the few representatives in Casper from Cisco College, Harris stands in sole possession of first place in tie-down roping after the second go-round.
He looked comfortable coming off his horse and scoring an 8.6, the fastest time in the second go.
“I don’t ever get nervous before rodeos usually because my confidence comes from practice,” Harris said. “I know I’m prepared, I know my horse is prepared and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work. I was pretty confident and I wasn’t nervous coming in.”
Harris plans to stay aggressive when he ropes in his third go on Thursday night in hopes of qualifying for Saturday’s short go.
The biggest threat to Harris’ chances is Haven Meged of West Oklahoma State, who moved into first in the average after a 9.8-second run in Tuesday night’s performance.
The Central Arizona Community College team of Clay Elkington and Cole Sherwood led after Tuesday’s slack and only furthered their legend in the night performance. A 13.4 after two turned into an impressive 19.3 on three and the duo hold firm control in the event.
In second is the team of Gillette College’s Kellan Johnson and Casper College’s Trey Yates. The two stand at 24.8 following a 6.3 that invigorated the audience.
“We had a little tough luck in the first run,” Yates said, “but we’ve made two good runs since and put ourselves in position to win something and it feels good. I’ve been here three times previous and this is the first time I’ve had a chance.”
Tristan Martin of East Mississippi Community College stands alone atop the standings. The sophomore bulldoger threw down his second 4.2 of the week in the third go for a 12.7 on three head. Second place Gabe Soileau of McNeese State is at 17.1.
“It’ll get smaller by the end of the week,” Martin said of his lead. “A lot of guys will come back and answer.”
Martin doesn’t plan to stretch his current momentum. His family’s in town so they’ll enjoy the rodeo at night and Casper the rest of the time instead of seeking out other rodeos in the area. Martin will not have to perform again until Saturday.
The final performances in barrel racing should bring heightened drama.
Kynzie McNeill of Texas Tech leads with 43.29 on three after a 14.22 — the fastest run of the week — Tuesday night. Then there’s Maddy Dickens of Odessa College at 43.49. Gillette College’s Riley Addington currently sits in third with a 44.32.
Addington and her horse saved their best performance for last, hoping that’s enough for them both to return for the short go.
“Everything kind of went well for me today,” Addington said. “It all came together. He fired, we did really well. I just sat and let him do his thing. It was really fun.”
Maddee Doerr of Cochese College immediately stole the spotlight from Cal Poly’s Courtney Wood with a 6.1 in the third go to take the overall lead.
Doerr now has an average of 19.3 while Wood sits in a tie for second with Jenna Dallyn of South Plains at 20.0.