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The Casper College men’s rodeo team is headed back to the College National Finals Rodeo.

The Thunderbirds scored a season-best 770 points over the weekend to win the University of Wyoming’s Laramie River Rendezvous. It also vaulted the T-Birds from No. 5 in the Central Rocky Mountain Region standings to No. 2, which puts them in the CNFR for the fifth time in the past seven years. It also marked an impressive turnaround for a Casper College team that failed to score a team point in the season-opening rodeo last fall and were in seventh place entering the final five CRMR rodeos this spring.

The top two teams in each of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s 11 regions automatically qualify for the college finals, as do the top three individuals in each event.

The University of Wyoming Cowboys were the runaway winners of the CRMR, totaling 5,021.7 points over the region’s 10 rodeos. Casper College finished with 3,813.3 points, followed by Gillette College (3,586.7), Laramie County Community College (3,548.3), two-time defending regional champ Sheridan College (3,520) and Chadron State College (3,295).

The T-Birds trailed Gillette, Sheridan and Chadron State (as well as UW) heading into the weekend, but first-place finishes from bareback bronc rider Cole Reiner and saddle bronc rider Lane Schuelke, along with five other top-5 finishes allowed Casper College to overtake all but the Cowboys.

Schuelke and Reiner, who transferred from Sheridan College at the semester, not only won titles Sunday but also secured return trips to the CNFR. Schuelke finished atop the saddle bronc standings while Reiner was the reserve bareback champ.

The only other T-Birds to finish in the top three of the final CRMR standings were team ropers Wheaton Williams and Cash Hetzel, who placed second over the weekend. Williams finished the season as the region’s top header while Hetzel was third in the heeling standings.

All four T-Birds had plenty of help over the weekend, though. K’s Thomson finished second in bull riding; Zack Thomas was third in bareback; Garrett Buckley tied for fourth in saddle bronc; and team roper Jerren Johnson, roping with Gillette College’s Kellan Johnson, his cousin, placed fourth.

Also winning individual titles over the weekend were Sheridan College bull rider Coby Johnson, Laramie County Community College steer wrestler Bernard Girard, Gillette College tie-down roper Jon Peterson, and team ropers Kurtis Palmer (Eastern Wyoming) and Brady Joseph (Chadron State).

In the women’s team race, the Wyoming Cowgirls, who were outside the top two in the standings earlier this month, won the Laramie River Rendezvous to secure the regional title ahead of runner-up Eastern Wyoming College. This marks the first time in 13 years both the Cowboys and the Cowgirls won regional titles in the same year.

UW’s Kelsey Lensegrav did it all for the Cowgirls over the weekend as the sophomore placed second in breakaway roping and fifth in barrel racing and goat tying. The Cowgirls also got runner-up finishes from Rachael Calvo in barrel racing and Teisha Coffield in goat tying and a fourth-place finish from Nicole Sederstrom in breakaway roping.

Event winners on the women’s side were Central Wyoming College’s Karson Bradley in barrel racing, Chadron State’s Merisa Cominiello in breakaway roping and Eastern Wyoming’s Karissa Rayhill in goat tying.

Laramie River Rendezvous

Friday-Sunday

Men

Team: Casper College 770, Laramie County Community College 693.3, Gillette College 420, Sheridan College 375, Chadron State College 250, University of Wyoming 236.7, Northeastern Junior College 180, Central Wyoming College 145, Otero Junior College 120, Eastern Wyoming College 5.

Bareback Bronc Riding: Cole Reiner, CC, 158 points Chance Ames, SC, 154 Zack Thomas, CC, 153 Kyle Bloomquist, CSC, 150 Rowdy Moon, CSC, 149.

Saddle Bronc Riding: Lane Schuelke, CC, 161 points Houston Brown, LCCC, 159 Dylan Schofield, GC, 157 Kolt Ferguson, UW, 149 Garrett Buckley, CC, 148 Jacob Kammerer, GC, 148.

Bull Riding: Coby Johnson, SC, 161 points K’s Thomson, CC, 83 Dylan Grant, SC, 63 Jaron Sturgis, LCCC, 61.

Steer Wrestling: Bernard Girard, LCCC, 10.6 seconds Houston Brown, LCCC, 12.0 Taylor Davidson, CWC, 12.0 Austin Hurlburt, LCCC, 13.1 Tate Petrak, CSC, 14.1 Cole Retchless, CSC, 14.1.

Tie-Down Roping: Jon Peterson, GC, 19.9 seconds Austin Hurlburt, LCCC, 21.8 Ty Everson, UW, 22.9 Kaden Lappe, LCCC, 25.1 Bernard Girard, LCCC, 25.8.

Team Roping: Kurtis Palmer, EWC/Brady Joseph, CSC, 13.7 seconds Wheaton Williams/Cash Hetzel, CC, 14.1 Alan Diaz/Austin Piper, NJC, 14.5 Kellan Johnson, GC/Jerren Johnson, CC, 17.0 Michael Kunzler/Daxon Buttars, OJC, 18.9.

Women

Team: University of Wyoming 585, Eastern Wyoming College 300, Central Wyoming College 170, Gillette College 110, Laramie County Community College 100, Northeastern Junior College 60, Casper College 50, Chadron State College 30, Sheridan College 30.

Barrel Racing: Karson Bradley, CWC, 29.70 seconds Rachael Calvo, UW, 29.74 Sydney Maher, GC, 30.08 Sudney Adamson, LCCC, 30.25 Kelsey Lensegrav, UW, 30.31.

Breakaway Roping: Merisa Cominiello, CSC, 5.9 seconds Kelsey Lensegrav, UW, 6.6 Sheyenne Jacobson, SC, 6.9 Nicole Sederstrom, UW, 7.6 Jaylee Simonson, LCCC, 9.1.

Goat Tying: Karissa Rayhill, EWC, 13.3 seconds Teisha Coffield, UW, 13.4 Jacey Thompson, EWC, 13.6 Faith Hoffman, 15.1 Kelsey Lensegrav, UW, 15.2.

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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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