Looking for a win: Casper College men’s rodeo team looks for top placing at CNFR
Casper – With a year behind them that Casper College Rodeo Coach Tom Parker marked as top-notch, Casper College Thunderbirds men’s rodeo team is headed to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 12-18 in Casper.
“I would have said it would be tough to top last year’s men’s team, but these young men never gave up, and they worked hard to the very last rodeo to the last contestant,” Parker comments. “We’re thankful these men are here at Casper College.”
Parker noted that the rodeo season for 2015-16 wasn’t easy, adding, “When it came down to the last rodeo of the season in Laramie, they knew what they had to do.”
During the last rodeo of the 2015-16 season, Parker explains, “When it came to the very last contestant, we were 89 points behind Gillette. It took everybody’s effort, but we beat Gillette by 130 points, and the full men’s team will compete at CNFR.”
Tie-down ropers Tyler Weeding and Bryce Bott earned 250 points between the two of them in the championship round of the Laramie River Rendezvous, and Bott won the rodeo.
The team came out as the 2015-16 Central Rocky Mountain Region Reserve Champions. This marks the second year in a row the team hit the reserve champion mark.
Team members who will compete at CNFR include Coley Nicholls in team roping, Bott in calf roping, Weeding in calf roping, Trevin Fox in steer wrestling, JW Meiers in saddle bronc and Dylan Wahlert in bareback bronc.
From the athletes
Students competing on the rodeo team all mention that rodeo is more than just a way to get through college. Rather, it’s a way of life, and they come together as a team to accomplish their lofty goals.
“I’m a steer wrestler and team roper,” says Fox. “I wasn’t very consistent at the beginning of the year, sometimes making short rounds, but not placing.”
“Then this spring, it came together,” he adds. “Patience and practicing brought it together, I suppose. I just kept practicing and did the best I could.”
Going into his first CNFR, Fox says that he’s had the chance to participate at national events at other levels, including the Indian Finals.
Rodeo also runs deep in his blood.
“My grandparents rodeoed, and my parents rodeoed,” Fox comments. “I was pretty much born to compete in this sport.”
“I just got a new horse, and right now, I’m debating whether to ride him or not. He’s younger and not as experienced, but he’s faster. I’ll work that out as we practice,” he says.
In the month leading up to CNFR, Fox returned home to Montana, where he splits his time between Browning and Harlem. He aspires to earn an ag business degree and then return to his family’s ranch, with the goal of running his own cattle one day.
“I’m glad I came to Casper College to rodeo,” he says, “and I’m looking forward to competing at CNFR.”
Bott, who helped bring the team to CNFR, adds that he also struggled early in the season but turned things around by the time spring rodeos came around.
“I won the college rodeo in Laramie, and that was a big deal,” he says. “I’m a freshman this year, and this is my first CNFR.”
“I’m just excited to compete at CNFR,” Bott continues. “That was my goal when I came to Casper this season, and I’m working toward winning a national championship.”
With a win as his goal, the Casper College ag business major also knows it won’t be an easy task to pull off.
“I’ve put in a lot of practice and a lot of work. I’ll continue practicing all the way up to CNFR,” he says. “I think we have a really strong team, and we should have a good showing at CNFR.”
CNFR kicks off on June 12 with Bulls, Broncs and Breakaways.
Slack starts on June 13, and evening performances begin June 14. Nightly evening performances will be held at 7 p.m. at the Casper Events Center June 14-18, with the finals held on June 18.
The event expects over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges and the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s (NIRA)11 regions.
“CNFR is the best of the best in college rodeo,” NIRA says.
Fox encourages Wyomingites to “Come down, support your team and have a good time.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Lviestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.