Hill College’s Cyle Denison and Ross Ashford weren’t thrilled with their 10.4-second performance Thursday at the College National Finals Rodeo, seeing as it included a five-second penalty.
But just about every other pair of team ropers at the rodeo would trade places with them right now. They sit in first place in the average at 21.1 seconds.
“It’s hard to really get mad,” said Ashford, the heeler. “I’m not happy with myself, with what I wanted to do. But I am happy that we’re still in the lead right now.”
Ashford is at his first college finals. Denison made an appearance last year, finishing 25th. The experience left him with some sage advice.
“All you’ve got to do is just go catch ‘em, and they’ll pay you,” he said. “That’s all you’ve got to do here.”
Tyler West has been consistent this week — enough so that he now sits atop the average in steer wrestling at the CNFR.
That’s not an accident.
“Just scoring,” the Southwest Texas Junior College freshman said of his approach Thursday. “Scoring was the big thing. Getting a tight head catch and then finishing the run.”
His 4.9-second run was actually his worst of the week, but it was good enough to give him a lead of 1.7 seconds in the aggregate (13.3).
He hopes to keep it up for one more run, which could be enough to earn him a national championship.
“No nerves,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing and let the rest fall.”
Bridger Anderson seized the top of the aggregate at 12.4 after scoring a 4.7 run in Friday's third go.
Kasen Brennise just keeps outdoing himself. The Weatherford College tie-down roper had set a goal for his freshman year of making the CNFR. He ended up winning the Southwest Region.
Then, once he reached the CNFR, his goal was simply to make the final go-round. He all but assured himself of that achievement Thursday, and he could be in a position to do much more.
He recorded a time of 10.2 seconds, the best of the performance.
“It could always be better,” he said. ”But I can’t complain. There’s a lot of kids here that would kill to be in my position, so I’m thankful for what I have done so far.”
The score left him in fifth place in the average with 32.4 seconds on three runs.
“I was actually late coming out of the box, and I wasn’t planning on it like that,” he said. “But I just kind of went into survival mode and just ran out there and made sure I got a good, clean neck shot and ran out and just went through the motions, made sure no mistakes tonight.”
Montana State’s Bryce Bott, of Powell, was just behind with a 10.4-second run. He has an aggregate time of 38.6 seconds, good for ninth.
With one performance to go in the third go-round, Tarleton State’s Haven Meged leads the field with a total of 26.4 seconds on three runs.
Before Kassidi Hofman, Thursday’s section of breakaway ropers were having a rough go of it. Four of the first five ropers failed to record a time, and the fifth broke the barrier.
But Hofman, of Kansas State, didn’t let the bad mojo affect her.
“I try to just kind of stay in the back,” she said. “I stay off my horse so I can calm my own nerves. I try not to really listen and think about it. I try to just go out there and make my run and do what I’ve got to do to get my job done.”
Her 2.4-second run is second best of the round thus far.
“Honestly, I was clear at the barrier and I roped my calf, and that’s all I came here to do,” she said. “The time was just a bonus.”
McNeese State’s Mia Manzanares owns the only third go time faster than Hofman’s (2.2). Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Taylor Munsell remains in first place in the average with 7.4 seconds on three runs.
Coming off all-around, breakaway and goat-tying championships, Manzanares has herself at least in striking distance for a goat-tying repeat. She recorded a 6.3-second run Thursday, which put her in fourth place in the average with 19.3 seconds.
“I’m really happy,” she said. “I know that I have the short-round made, and I just have to go win the short round and do my job.”
But it was Cochise College’s Maddee Doerr who stole the show Thursday, dropping a 5.9 that is second in the third go-round and puts her in first place in the average (18.2).
Weber State’s Erryn Hodson has the fastest time in the third go so far: 5.8.
Lassen Community College’s Hailey Finnegan couldn’t have asked for a much faster ride Thursday night, as her time of 14.33 seconds was the fastest yet in the third go-round. Still, a tick faster and she would’ve taken first place in the average. As is, it left her in second place at 43.06 seconds, just six hundredths off leader Ashtyn Carlson of the College of Southern Idaho.
Idaho’s Janey Reeves was next best in Thursday’s section, going around the cloverleaf in 14.69.