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Chance Ames started at the top and stayed there all week.

Now there’s a new national collegiate champion in bareback riding.

The Sheridan College product went wire to wire at the College National Finals Rodeo to claim his first national championship. Ames clinched the title with an 82.5-point ride during Saturday night’s short round at the Casper Event Center, dethroning defending champion Tyler Berghius in the process.

“(Leading wire to wire) is kind of something I think is pretty cool, especially back in the state of Wyoming,” Ames said. “Making them proud I guess.

“There’s nothing better than to represent the best state in the country.”

The Big Piney native scored 75.5 points during his first go-round during Sunday’s Bulls, Broncs & Breakaway to claim the No. 1 spot in the average and didn’t relinquish that spot following any of his rides. He didn’t score lower than 75.5 on any of his rides and won the third go-round with an 81.5 to take a 2.5-point lead on Missouri Valley College’s Jesse Pope heading into Saturday’s finals.

The top of the average fluctuated throughout the short round with nearly all 13 riders being within striking distance of Ames. Berghius, a graduate student at Tarleton State, Southern Idaho’s Klancy Krency, Casper College’s Cole Reiner and Panola Junior College’s Tyler Johnson all took the lead at one point.

Reiner won the short round with a score of 84.5 points atop Vold Rodeo Company’s Misty Valley that gave him 307.0 total points while Johnson followed two riders later with an 84.0 that put him at 311.5 total points, leaving Ames needing to notch at least 74.5 points on the final ride of the night to claim the title.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking because you see all them guys putting on good bareback rides,” Ames said. “You’ve just got to sit there and calm yourself down and tell yourself you’re going to go out there and have fun and do your thing.”

Ames easily surpassed Johnson’s score and seemed to know it immediately after he stepped off his horse, Vold Rodeo Company’s Wrangler Valley. He stood in the middle of the arena wearing a wide grin as he looked toward the video board waiting for his score to become official.

Once his highest score of the week was announced, Ames raised both arms and let out a scream in celebration of a title that he dominated from start to finish.

“Glory be to God,” he said. “Without him, this wouldn’t have been possible. It was a surreal moment. It’s something that can’t be really explained. You have to feel it.”

Johnson finished as the reserve champion while Pope (308.5 total points) came in third. Reiner (307.0) and Weatherford College’s Leighton Berry (301.0) rounded out the top 5, respectively.

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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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