The University of Wyoming men’s rodeo team lived up to the school’s appropriately named mascot this year. The Cowboys won two of the first three rodeos in the Central Rocky Mountain Region and added three more team titles in the spring to easily win the regional title and earn a spot in the College National Finals Rodeo.
Wyoming finished with 5,021.7 points to finish more than 1,200 points ahead of runner-up Casper College.
“Things went really good for the rodeo program this year,” UW head coach Beau Clark, who is in his first full year leading the program, said. “We started out with a bang at the first rodeo and then we stumbled at Sheridan, but we came back strong.”
The Cowboys showed just how dominant they could be when they scored 855 points – the top mark in the region this season – at Central Wyoming College’s Rustler Roundup in late September. Wyoming got first-place finishes from Caden Camp and J.C. Flake in team roping, Seth Peterson in steer wrestling and Jase Staudt in tie-down roping. In addition, Ty Everson was second in steer wrestling and Denton Shaw was sixth in team roping with Gillette College’s Cooper White.
Those six will all be competing at the Casper Events Center this next week, with Peterson (tie-down and steer wrestling) and Camp (team roping and steer wrestling) in two events.
“The nice thing about this team is of the six guys who are on the team, four of them worked three events and another worked two and (Shaw) is a three-time CNFR qualifier in the heeling,” Clark said. “It worked out well for us.”
Even without a roughstock competitor at the CNFR – the Cowboys had just two Top-10 finishers in the final regional standings in saddle bronc, bareback or bull riding – UW has enough balance that one bad pen of calves or steers shouldn’t derail their chances to compete for a national title. And Clark doesn’t expect the Cowboys to always be so reliant on timed-event cowboys.
“We want to win at both ends of the arena,” he said. “The challenge every year is picking the right guys because we have a lot of depth. That’s what we think the formula for success is in the future. It’s just that this year it worked out great with the guys we have in the timed events.
“Not a lot of people would say that all timed event guys is the right formula, especially in this region with so many talented roughstock kids, but it worked out for us.”
That’s because the Cowboys had so many talented timed-event kids. Outside of the six who will be competing at the college finals, Wyoming had three other timed-event cowboys finish in the Top 10 in the region. And while they didn’t make the cut for the Cowboys’ CNFR squad, they played their part by keeping competitors from other teams from scoring points throughout the season.
“The points-team kids get recognized a lot,” Clark said, “but it took everybody in the program to accomplish the things that we did this year. We had a handful of previous CNFR qualifiers that didn’t get to go this year. And a big part of that is just because how competitive this region is … I think it’s one of the best regions in all of college rodeo.
“For us, every kid in every event was competitive this year and that made practices great because those kids all pushed each other. You could see them battling in practice almost every day trying to outwork each other.”
The final all-around standings bear that out, with Peterson winning the region, Camp finishing as the runner-up, Everson placing fourth and Staudt tying for seventh.
Now they’re hoping that all-around talent translates to the biggest stage in college rodeo. Clark likes their chances.
“Our focus all year has been the person that can execute the most basic fundamentals consistently will be successful,” Clark said. “At the end of the day this is a four-header.
“We just hope these guys do what they’ve done all year and stay within themselves. Be more focused about making good runs than trying to win first or score points. I think if they do that it will be a fun week to see how things fall for them.”