UW Cowgirls, Cowboys Jump into Top 10 in Respective CNFR Events
Perhaps Nikki Steffes should get up at 4:30 each morning.
The University of Wyoming junior from Vale, S.D., turned in her best barrel racing time early Tuesday morning at the 60th College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in the Casper Events Center. She also moved up the national goat tying standings.
Her two-round aggregate time under 30 seconds (29.57) moved her higher up in the barrel racing average — 12th after two full rounds — and kept her chances of repeating as the national all-around champion alive.
She is among five UW contestants in the top 10 in their respective events.
It didn’t hurt that Steffes was the fourth racer in the arena during the final round of slack competition, which began at 7 a.m. The day before, she was one of the last to compete. By then the arena was soft, leaving her with a time that kept her out of the top 20.
Aboard “Doc” the tandem had a better run, with the horse cutting the turns sharply.
“I thought my run went a lot better today. It was definitely an advantage to be one of the first ones out. It was a huge difference,” she said outside the arena. “The ground was a lot more solid and was just that much better. There will be a lot faster times as well.”
She was glad that she got her barrel racing run early so that she could rest up for her second goat tying run. However, she didn’t like the fact that she had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get “Doc” fed and watered to prepare for their early run.
She later had an “average time” of 7.1 seconds in goat tying, not up to her usual high standards, she said. Her two-run time of 13.8 seconds put her third in the average, just five-tenths of a second out of first place. She was the national runner-up in the same event last season.
Teammate TaNaye Carroll put herself into breakaway roping contention when she stopped the clock in a quick 2.6 seconds, more than one second better than her initial run. Her two-round time of 6.5 left her ninth in the average after two rounds of competition.
She joins teammate Sarah Mulholland in the top 10 after two rounds of breakaway roping. Mulholland, a junior from Richland Center, Wis., is tied for third in the average at 6.1 seconds with one more round left before Saturday’s short go. However, Mulholland suffered her second straight no time in goat tying Tuesday morning. Like the day before, the goat kicked out of its tie.
Carroll, a La Junta, Colo., junior, was pleased with her Tuesday morning performance.
“Who was that girl out there?” an elated Carroll said as she cooled down her horse outside the arena. “My strategy was the same today as my first run. I just wanted to go out there and rope as quickly as possible. I drew a good calf, but he was not quite as fast as my first one. He gave me a chance to rope him a little quicker though.”
Carroll completed her morning with another solid goat tying round in 7.2 seconds, slightly faster than her 7.8 the day before. Her two-round average of 15 seconds put her ninth in the average.
“I got two down and have a pretty good average time,” she said. “I hope I keep drawing the good ones.”
Tie down roper Jake Pratt is one round away from securing his first short round bid.
The Ellensburg, Wash., sophomore successfully tied his second calf of the week, a little slower at 11.1 seconds, but still left him with a two-round time of 21.9 and fifth in the average after two full rounds. He’s making his first CNFR appearance.
“I try not to think about it. It’s like going to any rodeo down the road. I try to go out there and try my best on the calf I draw,” said Pratt, who won the regional tie down title this season. But he said he’s thinking of switching horses for his third run because the horse didn’t pull tight enough to take out the rope’s slack once the UW Cowboy lassoed the calf.
“I should have been a lot faster on both my runs,” he said. “I just have to go out there, catch them and tie them down. We’ll see what happens the rest of the week.”
UW’s top standing team roper, T.J. Teague, along with partner Quincy Opela of Eastern Wyoming College, took a slight hit on their overall average time. Teague, a senior from Loveland, Colo., managed to get his loop over the steer’s horns, but Opela looped only one heel. The team’s decent 7.5 time ballooned to 12.5 with a five-second penalty.
The pair’s two-head time of 18.8 put them ninth in the average.
“If we had caught two feet we would have been there really good in the average,” Teague said. “But now we just have to fight back.”
The Viles brothers of Cody — Tyler and Justin — made up for a no-time the day before with a 6.3 time in the same event. The Cowboys’ third team roper, Mark Morrison of Killdeer, N.D., and partner Brad Johnson of Gillette College had a no-time for the second straight day.
Jason Hubbard’s bad luck continued in the tie down roping event when he suffered his second straight no-time Tuesday morning. The Wheatland junior got the calf tied in 9.1 seconds, but it kicked out of the tie. The same thing happened the day before.
Bareback competitor Neil DeZort opted out of his second ride Tuesday because he was still smarting from his shoulder injury during Sunday’s opening competition. The Kalispell, Mont., sophomore’s final ride of the week is scheduled for Thursday.
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