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CNFR: Wednesday

Gillete College saddle bronc rider Carter Elshere holds on to Trophe Wife during Wednesday's performance of the College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.

Soon after the College National Finals Rodeo ended last summer, Carter Elshere was already thinking about this year.

Elshere, a saddle bronc rider from Gillette College, took third place in the event in his first-ever appearance at the college finals, but like any rider, being that close to a national championship left him virtually counting down the days until he could return to the Casper Events Center for another crack at it this summer.

“Last year after I got third, I made it a goal to come back and ride even better than I did last year,” Elshere said.

So far, so good.

Elshere covered on all three of his go-rounds this week, capping them with a 70-point ride atop Vold Rodeo Company's Trophe Wife during Wednesday night’s performance. The ride moved him to the top of the leaderboard with 219.5 points in the average even if Elshere thought it wasn’t his best ride of the week.

“I sure felt like I probably could’ve rode him a little bit better,” said Elshere, who started with a 74.5 on his first ride and notched a 75 in the second round. “I had a couple bobbles in there, but I can’t complain though, I guess.”

His first two rides left him needing 66.5 points on his final go-round to overtake Panhandle State’s Dawson Dahm for the No. 1 spot in the average. He easily surpassed that by staying on his third different horse in as many rides for the full 8 seconds.

“I knew there was a good shot of (me taking the lead),” Elshere said. “I just tried not to think about it too much. Just take it as it’s any other horse and tried to not to let it scare me too much or make me nervous.”

There were still two days of final rides remaining heading into Thursday before the field is whittled down to 12 for Saturday’s finals, so whether Elshere actually maintains his spot at No. 1 is out of his control now. The rider within the closest striking distance that still has a third ride pending is Clarendon College’s Riggin Smith, who hasn’t scored lower than 77 points this week and needs just 65 more to overtake Elshere in the average.

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CNFR: Wednesday
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But having the lead after Wednesday means Elshere is in good position to return to the short round for the second straight year. He totaled 284.5 points last year and may need to exceed that number to give himself a real shot at victory come Saturday night.

It’s a possibility Elshere has been pondering for nearly 365 days.

“There’s still a lot of rodeo left,” he said. “Just try to ride as best I can in the short round.”

Thursday's results

Smith easily moved past Elshere to take the lead in the average by taking the lead in the third go with a 79.5 during Thursday's performance. His 234.5 total points are 12 points clear of Panola Junior College's Logan Cook, who moved into second place with a strong final ride.

Cook's 75.5 was the second-highest score Thursday, giving him 223 total points. Smith's teammate, Tegan Smith, notched a 73.0 to move into the top 3 while Elshere's point total still has him fourth heading into Friday.

Feather River College's Cameron Messier (212 total points), Missouri Valley College's Trey Watts (210) and Fresno State's Reed Neely (200) all had scores of at least 67 in their final rides to move into the top 12 in the average.

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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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