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CNFR: Steer Wrestling

Northwest Oklahoma State steer wrestler Bridger Anderson throws his weight into taking down his steer at the College National Finals Rodeo on Tuesday at the Casper Events Center. Anderson won the average title Saturday.

Battered and bruised, having gutted out numerous rodeos in her final season, Southern Arkansas senior Jacie Sullivan knew she needed something during Tuesday morning’s slack. She was so focused on staying relaxed after letting her first goat tying run on Monday get away from her in a 7.5-second run. Bring it back down, she told herself.

Then she drew a good goat. She decided she needed to be more aggressive this time under the lights of the 2019 College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.

“Just go for it,” Sullivan said. “Just leave it all there.”

Sullivan and her horse burst through the open gate. She dismounted, knee pads outside of her jeans, in rhythm and completed her tie in 5.7 seconds, which was enough to win the second go and move her into a tie for 12th in the average (13.2).

She knew she felt more confident in her second run but didn’t know her more aggressive approach would provide the wanted result. In fact, she didn’t even thinking winning the go was a possibility until she heard the modest, scattered crowd start to cheer.

“I don’t really know what I am, just thought it was a pretty good run,” Sullivan said. “But then everyone went wild and I said I have to look, I have to look at the big board!”

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Sullivan qualified for last year’s CNFR, and even led with a 12.4 on two before a no-time on her third kept her from the short. She’s 1.1 seconds behind the lead going into the third go. Sullivan’s is Friday night, the longest wait.

“Being a goat tyer, especially at 22, is tough on your body so having that little bit of break to recuperate my body, it helps a lot,” Sullivan said. “If I was up tonight I’d probably have to go take a nap and ice my knees.”

She knows this is her last rodeo. If her senior status and event specialty didn’t indicate it, her body certainly does. So she’s simply looking forward to enjoying the ride.

Steer wrestling

This rodeo season started well for Bridger Anderson but spring didn’t bring the same results the fall did. He didn’t know if he’d be able to regain his confidence in 2019. Just before arriving in Casper he’s found his groove once again.

Anderson scored a 3.9 to tie with Central Wyoming College’s Nathan Weyrich atop the first go-round. He improved upon that with a 3.8 in Tuesday’s slack to win the second go. Together, that’s put him atop the average with a time of 7.7 seconds and a comfortable lead over Weyrich going into the third go-round.

“We just keep going at him every time and hope it works,” Anderson said. “Glad things are picking up here in Casper, it’s a good time to do it.”

The Northwest Oklahoma State cowboy even fought through a prolonged wait in the pen as his steer tried laying down and stalled in the chute. Anderson stayed focused and made sure his horse kept moving in order to prevent nerves for either. Now, he’s able to wrestle from the lead with little pressure.

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“Just stay light about the whole situation,” Anderson said. “Just try to keep making good runs on good cattle. As long as we can stay behind the barrier we should be in good shape.”

Team roping

Speaking of a healthy lead, the roping duo of Ross Ashford and Cyle Denison of Hill College scored a 5.7 on Tuesday for a 10.7 average. That gives them a 2.5-second lead over the team of Jerren Johnson (Casper College) and Braden Pirrung (Eastern Wyoming College).

Barrel racing

College of Southern Idaho’s Ashtyn Carlson won the second go with a 14.23, enough to lead the average with a 28.62. Hailey Finnegan and Wyoming’s Rachel Calvo stand not far behind with 28.73 and 28.74 on average, respectively.

Breakaway roping

Whitney DeSalvo of Arkansas-Monticello threw a 2.2 to win the second go and cut into Taylor Munsell’s lead. Munsell, however, finished just behind with a 2.3 to maintain first place with a 4.4 in the average. DeSalvo sits second with a 4.5 and Chadron State’s Quincy Segelke is third with a 4.7 going into the third go-round.

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Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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