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Pressure builds as college rodeo winds down

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The sport of college rodeo is more than what meets the eye. Many may think of dust flying as broncs begin to buck, or a spur digging into a horse’s side as it rounds a barrel. All of these aspects are true, but there is much more involved, especially for the cowboys and cowgirls of Wyoming colleges. The teams and individuals know that it is about hard work, technique, practice, consistency, the luck of the draw and pushing one’s self and teammates to work to the best of their ability.
    Wyoming colleges are a part of the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, which includes colleges in Colorado and eastern Nebraska. The collegiate rodeo season is split up into two parts – fall and spring.
    With the promise of warmer weather ahead, the spring rodeo season began in Gillette. The team standings from the fall season had carried over, and Casper College was at the top of the leader board out of the men’s teams, which is where they remain. For the women’s teams, Central Wyoming College began the spring season as the team in first, a place they still hold.
One common goal
    There are five rodeos in the spring season, three of which have already taken place, and the Casper College rodeo will begin April 20. With the end of the season approaching, athletes, coaches and teams are working toward a similar goal – the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
    To compete in the CNFR, an individual must finish in the top three of their respective event for their region. All points from both halves of the season are compiled to decide the top three individuals in each event, and these competitors also have the opportunity to ride in the finals as the All-Around Cowboy or Cowgirl. If the individual is not in the top three of their events, and is not placed on the team already, the Champion and Reserve Champion All-Around will compete in the CNFR.
    For a team to make it to the CNFR, they must also be first or second in their region. A men’s team will consist of six individuals, and a women’s team will be made up of four individuals. Each of these teams has two more opportunities to grasp on to one of the coveted standings.
    When the season comes to an end at the Laramie rodeo, the results will be presented. It is then that individuals know if their hard work got them to the finals, and the teams will find out if they will be the reigning champions of the 2011-2012 collegiate rodeo seasons.  
Competitive leadership
    The Casper College men’s team, coached by Tom Parker, has found success and points in rough stock riding, and the Thunderbird Rodeo Team is the defending champion team of the Central Rocky Mountain Region.
    “As we look at the past few rodeos, we have seen very positive things come out of this teams. Our men’s team is still winning the region. Our rough stock riders have really stepped up. We haven’t done much with the timed events, but we haven’t drawn very well. The draw can play an important role on team success,” says Parker.
    With the lead of the women’s team, Central Wyoming College is making points from consistency and experience. Head coach Rick Smith and his team are being led by four upperclassmen who have led by example.
    “These girls have been consistent all year. This is one of the strongest teams I have seen. They are great kids and great individuals,” says Smith.
Pressure rises
    “The pressure is starting to build. Anytime you have teams shooting at you like we do, there is pressure to keep doing what we are doing and keep the lead. It isn’t as much team-wise as it is individually. We still have a couple hundred points as a lead. We just need to score about 400 points a weekend and we will be sitting where we want to be,” says Parker.
    The last days, practices and rodeos of the season are drawing near, and Wyoming collegiate rodeo contestants are fighting for the chance to be in the top three of their events. Teams are working hard in practices and in the arena to ensure they keep their ranking, or to give it the fighting chance to be first or second as a team.
    “I have heard before, ‘There are a lot of people in this world who will take, but there are very few people who will give what it takes.’ As a T-bird and as an individual, it is about giving what it takes to reach our end goal,” says Zachariah Phillips, Casper College saddle bronc and bareback rider.
     Allie Leitza is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

2012 Central Rocky Mountain Region men’s team standings:
1. Casper College    3,540.00
2. Gillette College    3,301.66
3. University of Wyoming    2,985.00
4. Eastern Wyoming College    2,805.00
5. Northeastern Junior College    2,510.00
6. Central Wyoming College    2,375.00
7. Chadron State College    1,700.00
8. Laramie County Community College    1,150.00
9. Sheridan College    940.00
10. Colorado State University    335.00
11. Otero Junior College    270.00
12. Lamar Community College    240.00
13. United States Air Force Academy    128.33

Region women’s team standings:
1. Central Wyoming College    2,465.00
2. Northeastern Junior College    1,933.33
3. Gillette College    1,900.00
4. Chadron State College    1,733.33
5. University of Wyoming    1,090.00
6. Laramie County Community College    1,030.00
7. Eastern Wyoming College    786.66
8. Colorado State University    770.00
9. Casper College    595.00
10. Sheridan College    295.00
11. Lamar Community College    265.00
12. Otero Junior College    20.00

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