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The move to Casper College seems to be working out for Cole Reiner. One of a handful of riders to transfer from Sheridan College to Casper at semester, Reiner is off to a strong start at the College National Finals Rodeo as a Thunderbird.

“Last year, I came in here and I didn’t do very good, and I kind of had a — not a bad attitude, but I’ve just had a different attitude (this year),” said Reiner, who finished tied for 16th in bareback bronc riding in 2018. “Had a whole new mentality on rodeo, and this rodeo especially, this year. We’re coming to win this year instead of just ‘Happy to be here.’”

To do that, though, he’ll have to beat one of his former teammates.

Sheridan College’s Chance Ames leads the bareback average through the first two sections of the second go-round. Monday, Ames added a 75.5, tied for the best of the go-round so far, to his 79.5 from Sunday, which won the first go-round.

“Almost a spitting image of what happened yesterday,” Ames said of his ride Monday atop Brookman Rodeo’s Montigo Bay. “This horse circled around to the left and kind of just kept getting stronger as the ride progressed. Wound up on top. I did my job, and he did his and tied for the win so far.”

While he and Reiner now compete for different vests, the two still enjoy pushing one another.

“Any time he goes out there and makes a good ride, it makes you want to ride that much better,” said Reiner, who trails Ames by 7.5 points in bareback. “I like it. I don’t like being as far back as I am right now, but we’ll get caught up. It just fires everyone else up when he goes out there and does good. And when everyone else is doing good, it makes it easy for you to do good.”

Said Ames: “I try to compete with the horse. But it’s still just as cool getting to compete with the guys that I went to school with too.”

Ames is at his third CNFR, and he’s hoping for a breakthrough performance.

“I knew what to expect and kind of knew how to go about it this time,” he said. “Kind of treat it more like a business trip instead of just a playground, more or less. So I think it definitely helped. It matured me quite a bit to get me to where I am today.”

Reiner’s 71.5 on Monday put him temporarily atop the bareback field following one section of the second go-round. His ride continued Casper College’s hot start, coming one event after Casper College’s Makayla Seely won the first go-round of barrel racing.

“We started out on a good foot yesterday,” Reiner, who sits third in bareback behind Ames and Missouri Valley College’s Jesse Pope, said Monday. “I went out there and then Lane (Schuelke) and everyone rode and did pretty good yesterday, so we’re all in the hunt for winning this deal. Our team’s going to do really good here, so I’m excited. We’re early, but we’re doing good.”

Schuelke covered his second horse in as many days in saddle bronc riding Monday, scoring a 67.5.

“It went all right,” he said of Monday’s ride. “Can’t complain. Felt like I did all the things I could do for him. He wasn’t a lot of horse but enough, I guess. ... Get the next one down and get to the short go.”

Cooper Thatcher leads all saddle bronc competitors with an average of 158.

“I mean, you do it day by day,” said Thatcher, whose 82 won the first go-round. “You take a clean slate the next day, and you’ve got to try about as hard as you did the day before. (A good first score) gives you a little more confidence maybe.”

Shuelke is in third place for now with 137.5 points. Like Reiner, he transferred from Sheridan College to Casper College at semester.

“We get along real well, all of us that transferred,” Schuelke said. “We’re always there helping out and cheering on. So it’s pretty good to have them guys around still.”

The third transfer, K’s Thomson, covered his bull Sunday for a 70 but was bucked Monday, a rare misstep for the Thunderbirds so far.

“I think if everybody does their part and does what they’re capable of doing, I think we could come out pretty high anyway,” Schuelke said. “I mean, we’ve got a pretty good team I think. It should go pretty good this week.”

Casper College’s roughstock competitors will have a big say in that. It’s a change of pace from the past few college finals, where the team did more damage in the timed events.

“Our coach loves it,” Schuelke said. “It seems like he wants to be a roughie now.”

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Managing Editor

Brandon Foster is the Star-Tribune's managing editor. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 as the University of Wyoming sports reporter after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years.

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