{{featured_button_text}}
CNFR - Thursday

Jesse Pope of Missouri Valley College rides Big Dance while competing in bareback bronc riding during Thursday's performance of the College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.

The last thing Jesse Pope felt like doing this week was riding a horse.

It wasn’t because he was nervous. The Missouri Valley College bareback rider had already competed on college rodeo’s biggest stage last year as a freshman when he advanced to the short round of the College National Finals Rodeo and finished 11th in the roughstock event.

It wasn’t because he wasn’t prepared. Pope not only competes for his school but also rides professionally after recently earning his rookie card, so “my job is to work out every day and go ride bucking horses,” he said.

It was because Pope was physically ill.

He has been recovering from a bout of food poisoning he contracted shortly after he got to town last weekend. Pope said he spent Saturday night in the hospital after eating a buffalo chicken wrap that zapped him of most of his strength.

“I ain’t going to say where, but I was sicker than a dog,” Pope said.

As bad as Pope felt -- “I wanted to curl up and call my mamma,” he said with a laugh --  the timing was even worse. His hospital stay came less than 24 hours before he was scheduled for his first ride Sunday in Bulls, Broncs & Breakaway. Intravenous fluids helped with the nausea, dehydration and other symptoms commonly associated with the illness, but it was sheer determination that got Pope to the Casper Events Center for his first ride more than anything.

“I felt like complete death,” Pope said. “I was white as a sheet, and I did not want to ride bucking horses. But I came here to do it, and by golly, I set my mind to do it. I was going to do it, and I did.”

Pope said it wasn’t until the middle of the week that he felt like he was back at full strength, though it’s been hard to tell he’s been dealing with any sort of illness based on how he’s performed.

He scored 78 points on his first ride and has continued to put up some of the highest scores of any bareback rider this week. Pope followed that up with a 75.5-point ride in the second go and had his best ride of the week during Thursday night’s performance, riding Frontier Rodeo Company’s Big Dance to a 79 that vaulted him into second place in the average.

Only Sheridan College’s Chance Ames, the national leader in the event, and Coffeyville Community College’s Chance Merrill (third) have had higher single-ride scores this week. Pope’s 232.5 total points are just four behind Ames, who posted an event-best 81.5 points on his third go-round Tuesday.

Pope can’t take all the credit. He said he’s received plenty of help from the broncs he’s drawn to score big.

+37 
+37 
CNFR - Thursday
+37 
+37 
CNFR - Thursday
+37 
+37 
CNFR - Thursday
+37 
+37 
CNFR - Thursday
+37 
+37 
CNFR - Thursday

“I have my job, and that’s to ride whatever they put underneath me and ride it to the best of my ability,” Pope said. “The other 50 percent comes from the horse. My second-round draw, she was a little bit weaker. That was my 75. Other than that, I’ve drawn good and done my part. That’s all I can do.”

Pope maintained his position in the average following Friday's final day of rides, easily locking up a spot in Saturday’s finals for the second straight year. It's an accomplishment in and of itself given his physical condition.

“It’s a mental game. I set my mind that I’m here to win, and I’m here to ride the very best I can,” he said. “I can set that off to the side for 8 seconds. I’ve rode the best I possibly can all week.”

Friday's results

Tarleton State's Tyler Berghius did just enough on his third-go round to get a chance to repeat as the national bareback champion.

Berghius notched a 60 -- his lowest score of the week -- during Friday's performance to tie New Mexico State's Dylan Riggins for 12th place. Since Berghius and Riggins each have 209 total points, Saturday's finals will have 13 riders with both earning the qualifying nod.

Utah Valley's Derrik Thompson moved into seventh with a 73 while Panhandle State's Jade Taton also moved on to Saturday's finals with a 68.5 that put him in 10th. Panola College's Tyler Johnson, Weatherford College's Leighton Berry, Casper College's Cole Reiner, Southeastern Oklahoma's Will Martin, Southern Idaho's Klancy Krenka and McNeese State's Waylon Bourgeois also finished in the top 12.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter

0
0
0
1
0

College Sports Reporter

Davis Potter is the University of Wyoming athletics reporter. An Alabama native and 2011 Auburn University graduate, Potter joined the Star-Tribune in 2018 after five years covering Ole Miss and the Southeastern Conference. He lives in Laramie.

Load comments