June 9, 2016 — It took the 10th and final rodeo of the regular season for the University of Wyoming women’s rodeo team to finally figure out just how good it is.
Early last month, the Cowgirls had their best overall performance in the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) when they won the home Laramie River Rendezvous Rodeo team title. In the process, the UW women secured one of the coveted top two positions in the region and an automatic bid to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 12-18 at the Casper Events Center.
That home rodeo victory gave the Cowgirls second place in the CRMR, marking a turnaround that has taken five years. That’s the last time UW has sent a full four-member team to the CNFR. And the Cowgirls did it this time without any seniors on the finals rodeo roster.
“I knew it was coming; they learned a lot this year, and it finally came together at the last rodeo,” UW Rodeo Coach George Howard says.
The team is composed of junior Amelia Anderson, of Forsythe, Mont.; sophomores Josee Vogel, from Pavillion, and Kailee Webb, of Isabel, S.D.; and freshman Karlee Peterson, of Sturgis, S.D.
“It was at that last rodeo that they finally relaxed. They breathed a sigh of relief and said, ‘Hey, this isn’t so hard; we’ve been trying too hard,’” Howard says. “I’ve been encouraging them going into the national finals to just go out there, have fun and, hopefully, it will all come together.”
As for the men, the Cowboys did not qualify as a team, but will send three individuals to the CNFR: senior Dillon Simonson, of Purdum, Neb.; junior Jaden Clark, from Wellfleet, Neb.; and sophomore Jacob Smith, of LaSalle, Colo.
“Everyone is capable of doing well at this level,” Howard says.
The women’s team is led by barrel racing champion Webb, who finished as the region’s hottest rider, reaching the short go in all five spring rodeos, and winning the average three times. She has scored the seventh most points nationally going into collegiate rodeo’s biggest event.
Anderson, Peterson and Vogel make up a trio of solid goat tyers. Anderson and Vogel ended the year as the runner-up and fourth-place finisher, respectively, in the final regional standings. Peterson started her first year strong, but was slowed by a meniscus injury halfway through the season. She is just now getting back into competitive shape, Howard says.
Two of the three men’s competitors had solid seasons. Smith won the CRMR bull riding title, which gave him the sixth best point total among all bull riders nationwide.
Simonson, who led the steer wrestling competition for most of the season, wound up second overall in the final regional bulldogging standings.
Clark, who finished seventh in the bareback riding event this past season, earned a CNFR bid as the region’s student director.
The CNFR begins Sunday, June 12, with two performances of “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway” at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., featuring only bull and bronc riders, and women’s breakaway roping competitors.
The first of two slack rounds begins at 7 a.m. Monday, June 13, and Tuesday, June 14. The first of five nightly performances begins Tuesday at 7, with the championship round scheduled Saturday, June 18, also at 7 p.m.
Each of UW’s qualifiers will compete in the slack rounds, and all are guaranteed to compete in one of the nightly performances.
For a detailed list of CNFR events, go to www.cnfr.com/schedule/.