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There’s something about the first go-round of the College National Finals Rodeo that works for Chance Ames.

The Sheridan College junior, a Big Piney native, finished fifth in the first go each of the past two years with 77-point rides on his way to finishing seventh and ninth, respectively, in the final standings.

Sunday, Ames was even better.

He won the first go with a score of 79.5 atop Frontier Rodeo’s Big Maple during the Bulls, Broncs & Breakaway competition at the Casper Events Center.

“I didn’t know too much about that horse so I just went out there and did my job,” Ames said. “This is a whole different ballgame when you get here so I just do what I can and let the chips fall where they may.”

Missouri Valley College’s Jesse Pope and Coffeyville Community College’s Chance Merrill tied for second with 78-point rides.

Casper College’s Cole Reiner, a Kaycee native who attended Buffalo High School, gave the Cowboy State two top-6 finishers in the event with a 76 on Frontier Rodeo’s Tombstone.

Like Ames, his former teammate at Sheridan College, Reiner knew nothing about his horse but made it work to his advantage.

“In that kind of situation you just do what you can and max him out,” Reiner said. “That ride just sets me up for the next time.”

Reiner also competed last year, but failed to make the short go as he finished 16th. He’s got a different mindset this year.

“Last year I was a lot less mature,” Reiner said. “Now I can treat this like just another rodeo. And I’m coming to win it this year.”

Reiner has experience winning at the Events Center. He was a state champion wrestler for Buffalo in 2016.

“I’d rather be doing this,” Reiner laughed.

When asked about what it meant to have two in-state cowboys at the top of the bareback standings, Ames just shook his head.

“It feels pretty surreal,” he said. “For us to be sitting where we are is awesome because this is someone I grew up competing with.”

Rounding out the top 8 were Montana State’s Shawn Perkins and Weatherford College’s Leighton Berry tied for fourth with 77.5 points each, Panola’s Tyler Johnson seventh with a 75 and the College of Southern Idaho’s Klancy Krenka in eighth with a 74.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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