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The bulls have been bucking particularly hard this week.

With the final leg of the third go-round pending Friday, no bull rider at the College National Finals Rodeo has covered all three of his rides. The second performance of the third go came and went Wednesday at the Casper Events Center without a single rider covering, and none of the first four riders Thursday were able to stay on their respective bulls for the full 8 seconds. All but one of those bulls belonged to the Frontier Rodeo Company.

“You come here to Casper, and Frontier brings a dang good pen,” Western Texas College’s Colten Fritzlan said. “These (Frontier) guys here, they’re at the top of their games. When we get one rode or whatnot, you know you’ve done something good.”

Fritzlan was one of the few riders that could revel in that accomplishment after Thursday. Hill College’s Parker McCown, Treasure Valley Community College’s Greg Shannon, Walla Walla Community College’s Chase Wimer and Wharton County Junior College’s Brett Garza also joined in a string of riders that covered to end Thursday’s performance, but they all rode bulls provided by the Vold Rodeo Company.

Fritzlan was the lone rider Thursday to cover on a Frontier bull, vaulting up in the average in the process. The freshman rode He’s Legit to 76.5 points -- the highest score of any of Thursday’s riders in the event -- to give him 158.5 total points. It was good enough to put him in second place in the average after Thursday with the top 12 riders set to advance to Saturday’s short round.

“I knew if I did my job and (the bull) did his, we’d come together and it would be good enough,” Fritzlan said.

In saddle bronc, Riggin Smith didn’t have any problem staying on Frontier’s Short Cake to take the lead in the third go-round. The Clarendon College sophomore shot into the lead in the average with a 79.5-point ride to put him 12 points ahead of Panola Junior College’s Logan Cook.

“I expected myself to come in and do good,” Smith said. “That’s what I expect from myself every time, and I want to come in here and win. I’ve just drawn great. Everything’s been lining up so far. I’m blessed, man.”

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Smith said he had to fight some nerves early in the week, but he’s hardly looked like a rider overwhelmed by his first appearance at the college finals. He’s covered on all of his first three rides for 234.5 total points and hasn’t score lower than 77.

“I think I’ve been setting my feet really good and really getting a hold of the horses, helping them out and keeping them doing their job,” he said. “I think that’s helped a lot.

“Everything they say about this place, it’s all true and then some. It’s the real deal when you get here.”

Friday's results

In saddle bronc, Casper College's Garrett Buckley notched a 71 on his third go to advance to Saturday's finals. Buckley, whose 206.5 total points edged Panhandle College's Tanner Hayes by one point for the 12th and final qualifying spot, joins teammate Lane Schuelke (10th in average) in the finals.

Hill College's Parker Fleet was the only other rider Friday to qualify for the short round. Fleet's 75 moved him into fourth in the average with 220.5 total points. Clarendon College's Riggin Smith, Panola College's Logan Cook and Clarendon College's Tegan Smith held on to the top 3 spots while Gillette College's Carter Elshere, Treasure Valley Community College's Jack Bentz, Panhandle Junior College teammates Dawson Dahm and Cooper Thatcher, Feather River's Cameron Messier and Missouri Valley College's Trey Watts also qualified for Saturday's short go.

Sheridan College's Coby Johnson highlighted the bull riding by becoming the first rider to cover all three rides with an 83-point ride on Frontier Rodeo's Over the Top for the highest score in any go this week. It vaulted him into the lead in the average with 231.5 total points.

Johnson enters Saturday's finals with a 70.5-point lead on Panola College's Daylon Swearingen while Fritzlan now sits in the third. New Mexico State's Justin Neill was the only other bull rider that covered Friday with a 73.5.

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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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