Led by Amelia Anderson and Kailee Webb, the University of Wyoming women’s team came through in the final round to boost the Cowgirls to the runner-up position at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) Saturday night in Casper.
It was the team’s best performance since winning the program’s fourth national title in 2009.
Going into the short go in the Casper Events Center, the Cowgirls were in seventh place but, boosted by Anderson’s second-place finish in goat tying and Webb’s third-place performance in barrel racing, the UW women jumped five places to finish as the national runners-up.
Coming into the finals, the Cowgirls had scored 130 points through three rounds. But, in the short go, Anderson and Webb added third-round points in addition to more points in the aggregate. Sam Houston State University won the women’s team title with 485 points, while the Cowgirls closed out with 355 points — 10 more than third-place Eastern New Mexico University.
Gillette College, which won the regional title over UW this past season, finished seventh.
Anderson and Webb scored all the Cowgirls’ points at the 69th CNFR at the Events Center. Also qualifying, but not placing for the UW women’s team at college rodeo’s year-end event, were Wyoming natives Casey Reimler, a Rozet junior, and McKinnon freshman Cori Terry.
During Saturday’s championship round, Anderson gutted out the longest seven minutes of her life, watching and waiting as five goat tyers were still waiting to make their runs.
When it was over, only one had surpassed Anderson, and the UW senior was ever so close to winning a CNFR goat tying title. The Forsyth, Mont., senior just missed by two-tenths of a second.
Coming into Saturday night’s short go in the sixth position, Anderson had the round’s second-best time in 6.5 seconds to trail eventual champion Tawny Barry of Eastern New Mexico University.
Anderson was beyond excited to place second in the nation, but had to endure what seemed like a long wait.
“It was pretty tough and intense. I was a little worried I wasn’t going to make it, because those girls are good goat tyers. But, it all worked out, so that’s good,” a grinning Anderson said as she stood behind the chutes watching the final competitors. “I’m pretty proud of myself, actually. I mean, I would have loved to win it, obviously.”
Anderson made a clean dismount on her run but, when she flanked the goat, it fell on her, causing some hesitation. She still had one of her better rounds of the week.
As the only senior on the team, Anderson was making her second CNFR appearance of her career.
“The last four years have flown by so fast, but I’m really sad that it’s over. And, at the same time, I’ve had a lot of fun competing for UW,” she says. “I’m so proud of myself for being the national runner-up. Honestly, I came in sixth, and I made it to the runner-up position. I just went out there and made the run I thought I could make.”
Webb, who led the barrel racing event until Thursday night, was a little disappointed in the outcome. She was third in the aggregate in 57.95 seconds. Texas A&M’s Hailey Kinsel won in 57.89, while national leader Leia Pluemer placed second at 57.92.
Webb was 14.45 on her final run.
“It wasn’t as good as I expected. My horse tried to hit every barrel, and I had to ride like crazy. We didn’t make our turns as sharp as I wanted, so it was disappointing,” she says. “It could have gone a little worse, but it could have gone a whole lot better.”
Webb, an Isabel, S.D., junior, was making her second straight finals run. She placed for the first time.
“I’ll be back. I have great horses, so I’m not worried about coming back, and I’m not worried about our team not making it back,” she says.
The three UW Cowboys who qualified for the CNFR in two separate events reached Saturday night’s short go for the first time. And, it was a tough night for the Pokes.
Team roping partners Denton and Dusty Taylor, of Craig, Colo., qualified on two head and were out to win the round. Denton was quick with his throw, catching the horns and turning the steer, but Dusty missed the heels as the steer skipped away. They entered the finals as the 11th seed.
Coming into the short go in the 12th and final qualifying spot, Wyatt Hageman faced tough odds, and his first go appearance ended in just 3.21 seconds when “Foofy Foofy” tossed the Jay Em junior.
The Pokes placed 20th with 255 points. Panhandle State University won the men’s national title with 827.5 points, and Sam Houston State University was the national runner-up with 715 points.