The Cowboy State lived up to its moniker at last week’s College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.
Big Piney native Chance Ames, competing for Sheridan College, got things off to an impressive start by winning the bareback bronc riding during the Bulls, Broncs & Breakaway competition on June 9. The junior won the first go-round with a 79.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo’s Big Maple.
“I didn’t know too much about that horse,” Ames said after his ride. “So I just went out there and did my job.”
That was just the starting point for Ames, who tied for fifth in the second round (75.5) and won the third round (81.5) to sit atop the standings entering Saturday’s short go. He saved his best for last, scoring 82.5 points on Vold Rodeo Company’s Wrangler Valley to win the average with 236.5 points.
“There’s nothing better than to represent the best state in the country,” Ames told the Star-Tribune after his national championship-clinching ride.
Ames might have been the only in-state competitor to win a national title at the college finals, but he had plenty of company in the short go and in the buckle ceremonies that followed each round of competition.
Here’s an event-by-event breakdown of how in-state competitors and competitors from Wyoming schools fared throughout the CNFR.
Bareback bronc riding
While Ames stole the spotlight, but Kaycee native Cole Reiner finished fourth in the average. The Casper College cowboy, a former teammate of Ames’, was sixth in the first go and fifth in the third go. Reiner then won the short go with an 84.5 — the highest mark of the week — on Vold Rodeo Company’s Misty Valley to finish fourth in the average.
Saddle bronc riding
Casper College’s Lane Schuelke gave the Thunderbirds two wins in the short go with a 78.0-point ride on Vold Rodeo Company’s Music Man. That vaulted Schuelke to No. 6 in the average and made Casper College coach Jhett Johnson a prophet.
“(Cole and Lane) haven’t had the best draws this week,” Johnson said Friday, “but that’s going to change (Saturday). And those guys are going to get after it.”
Casper College teammate Garrett Buckley finished ninth in the average and Gillette College’s Carter Elshere was 11th.
Sheridan College freshman Coby Johnson was the only bull rider to successfully cover his first three bulls, which included winning the third go. Unfortunately, Johnson was bucked off in the short go and fell to No. 3 in the average.
Northwest College’s Caleb McMillan won the second go and finished seventh in the average on his way to being the reserve all-around champ.
At one point in Saturday’s short go, bulldoggers with Wyoming ties occupied the top 3 spots in the standings, with Wyoming Cowboys Ty Everson and Seth Peterson sitting 1-2 and Worland’s Nathan Weyrich, rodeoing for Central Wyoming College, was third.
Those results didn’t hold, although Everson, Peterson and Weyrich still finished 4-5-6 in the average.
Weyrich, a former all-state wrestler at Worland, tied for the win in the first go and UW’s Caden Camp won the second go.
Powell native Bryce Bott, competing for Montana State, placed in two rounds and finished sixth in the average.
And Bear River’s Colton Kofoed, the 2015 National High School Finals Rodeo tie-down champ, placed third in the first go for Western Oklahoma State College.
“I thrive in pressure situations,” said Kofoed, who missed the CNFR the past two years after nearly losing his hand in a roping accident.
Casper College’s Jerren Johnson and Eastern Wyoming College’s Braden Pirrung placed second in the first go and fifth in the short go to finish eighth in the average.
Riverton native and Casper College freshman Makayla Seely got Monday’s slack started on the right foot by winning the first go with a 14.32-second run. Seely set the standard on the first turn of the cloverleaf and none of the other 44 cowgirls that followed were able to beat it.
Seely, who finished eighth in the average, was one of four barrel racers with Wyoming ties to make the short go. Wyoming’s Rachael Calvo (No. 3) and Kelsey Lensegrav (No. 9) and Big Piney’s Karson Bradley (No. 13), riding for Central Wyoming College, also qualified for Saturday’s championship round.
Yoder native Jacey Thompson, competing for Eastern Wyoming College, finished 11th in the average.
Thompson tied Gillette College’s Taylour Latham, the first go winner, and UW’s Teisha Coffield for seventh in the average; Eastern Wyoming College’s Karissa Rayhill was 12th.