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Briar Dittmer has seen -- and ridden -- it all at the College National Finals Rodeo.

A senior from Missouri Valley College, Dittmer is going through the event for the fourth time. He’s competed in every roughstock event over the years and is taking part in bareback and saddle bronc in his final collegiate competition.

It’s been one of mixed results for Dittmer, who completed his third go-round in both events during Wednesday night’s performance at the Casper Events Center. He covered on his final saddle bronc ride but failed to do so on his third go-round in bareback. Dittmer covered just one of his three rides in bareback to leave him with 70 points in the average.

It was still good enough for 12th place in the event after Wednesday. In saddle bronc, Dittmer is 11th in the average with 144 points. The top 12 riders in each event will advance to Saturday’s finals, though Dittmer is likely to lose his grip on those positions with only half the riders in each event having completed all three go-rounds heading into Thursday’s performance.

“I wanted to be the national champion in both events and win the all-around, but sometimes they just don’t work out,” Dittmer said.

All Dittmer can do now is wait and hope, but even if he doesn’t qualify for Saturday’s short round, the veteran rider has enjoyed competing on college rodeo’s biggest stage just as much as in years past. It’s not uncommon for CNFR first-timers to let the stakes and emotions get the best of them while the experience can easily become old hat for veteran riders like Dittmer.

But Dittmer said it’s an experience that never gets old for him.

“It’s like the first time I’ve been here every time,” Dittmer said. “Then when things don’t go your way, you’re just as disappointed as you would’ve been four years ago.”

That’s when Dittmer made his first appearance at CNFR as a freshman saddle bronc rider, but he’s diversified his experience since. He competed in saddle bronc and bull riding as a sophomore, both of which came naturally to Dittmer since he also rode broncs and bulls in high school.

But Dittmer began riding bareback two years ago and is competing in that event along with saddle bronc for the second straight year. His best finish in any event at the college finals  came last year in saddle bronc when he placed eighth, but Dittmer said the physical nature of bareback is starting to grow on him to the point where he’s contemplating concentrating solely on that event in his attempt to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo next year as a professional.

“Bareback riding is a lot more physical,” he said. “You’ve got to be on top of your game physically and mentally. Bronc riding is more finesse. You’ve just got to be technically sound. They’re two different events and way different from each other.”

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CNFR: Wednesday
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CNFR: Wednesday

Cutting out other events would also minimize Dittmer’s risk of serious injury, something he’s been able to avoid so far. He said he’s riding this week with a sprained knee ligament while he completely tore through his right groin on just his fourth time ever riding bareback, but that’s as bad as it’s gotten.

“I’ve been pretty blessed,” Dittmer said.

But Dittmer’s future can wait. For now, he’s hoping to get at least one more ride out of his collegiate career and extend an experience in Casper he can’t get enough of.

“It’s a great event," Dittmer said, "and I love coming here."

Thursday's results

In bareback, Missouri Valley College's Jesse Pope took the lead in the third go-round with a 79 -- his highest score of the week -- to move into second place in the average. His 232.5 total points are four shy of Sheridan College's Chance Ames, who completed his final ride Tuesday.

Southeastern Oklahoma's Will Martin, New Mexico State's Dylan Riggins and Montana Western's Brody Smith entered Thursday's performance eighth, 10th and 12th in the average, respectively, and held those positions. Martin had the best ride of the trio with a 71.5.

Western Texas College's Colten Fritzlan vaulted into second in bull riding by posting the highest score so far in the third go-round with a 76.5. Fritzlan, who scored an 82 on his first ride, sits just 2.5 points behind Panola Junior College's Daylon Swearingen in the average. Walla Walla Community College's Chase Wimer, Hill College's Parker McCown, Treasure Valley Community College's Greg Shannon and Wharton County Junior College's Brett Garza all covered their rides to move into the top 12.

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

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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.

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