University of Wyoming Cowgirl Karson Bradley hasn’t had much to worry about this season: She just went about her business to rack up win after win in the Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) to capture her first barrel racing title and, in doing so, she became the overall national points leader.
But, when it came down to her first run at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) early Monday at the Wyoming Ford Center in Casper, the Big Piney junior was not her usual confident self.
“I got the first one out of the way, and it’s always the most nerve-wracking one for me,” a relieved Bradley said after her first barrel racing run, an event that opened the first of two slack sessions at 7 a.m. “I’m glad it’s done. Now, it’s off to tomorrow.”
Monday’s performance turned out better than Bradley’s first CNFR appearance two years ago as a member of the Central Wyoming College women’s team. Monday morning, the Big Piney competitor had a clean, quick barrel racing run, stopping the clock in 14.32 seconds to put her among the top competitors in seventh place less than a half second behind the leader in a tight race.
“This was a much better run. I was much slower on my first run two years ago but, now, I was more comfortable out there because I have been here before. I just felt better,” Bradley said. “My horse was just so honest, and he did exactly what I told him to do. It felt really good this morning, even though I was nervous when I got here.”
After the first session of slack events, results for the UW women were:
— CRMR goat tying champion Faith Hoffman, of Kiowa, Colo., said her opening-round time of 6.6 seconds was OK, good enough to stay in the average contention. She said there is no perfect goat tying run and added that hers was hampered when she bobbled the goat before setting it down to secure the legs with her goat string.
— About 30 minutes later, teammate Taylour Latham, of Roosevelt, Utah, matched Hoffman’s 6.6 seconds in the second section of goat tying. This is her third CNFR appearance, the first coming for Gillette College. Hoffman and Latham were first and second, respectively, in the region this past season.
“Absolutely not, I was hoping I was faster than Faith,” she said, laughing about the thought of matching her teammate’s time. “I had some technical difficulties — my team vest got caught over my saddle horn when I was running down the arena on my horse. It didn’t go as smoothly as planned, but it was a smooth enough run to keep me in the average.”
Latham and Hoffman are tied for 12th place in the average with six other competitors in a tight field.
— Hailey Hardeman’s second round was one to forget, as she missed on her second calf of the week. The Wilson freshman, who is not among the UW women’s points team, had a 3.5-second time in her first run.
UW’s men had a tough go, especially in the roping events:
— Chadron Coffield was the first competitor of the day in the opening section of steer wrestling, and he didn’t disappoint when he posted a top 10 time in 7.3 seconds. It was done right after the arena staff dragged the dirt floor, causing it to be slicker than Coffield expected.
“I was the first one out, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew the steers would be fresh, and I got an average start coming out, but I got a good head catch, got him down, and that’s all I can ask for in the first round,” he says. “It was pretty slick out there; I was surprised. It was fresh dirt and, when they ripped it, I thought it would be deeper. Instead, it was slick.”
Earlier in the morning, the Yuma, Colo., competitor had a successful first tie down attempt, recording a 10.6-second time, putting him about two seconds off the leader’s pace. Coffield had a clean break and tie, the calf butted him a bit, but the senior managed to regroup for a clean tie. He is sitting 10th in the average after the first round.
— Seth Peterson showed why he was the region’s tie down roping runner-up when he had a clean opening run. The senior stopped the clock in a respectable 10.2 seconds. Peterson is among the top 10 ropers after the first go, one place ahead of Coffield.
But, Peterson was in no mood to celebrate his steer wrestling run later in the day. The Minot, N.D., senior thought he stopped the clock when he turned the steer’s head over with the nose pointing up to the ceiling as required. But the arena judge didn’t see it that way. Peterson, already on the ground and relaxing his grip, quickly realized what was happening and had to turn the steer’s head over again. By then, valuable seconds had ticked away, leaving the two-event Cowboy trying to plead his case, to no avail.
— Jase Staudt’s opening tie down roping opportunity was a bust when his calf shot out of the chute at breakneck speed. Staudt’s roping attempt missed its mark, and he had to settle for a no-time. He was this year’s calf roping champion in the region.
The Nathrop, Colo., senior’s tough day continued later in the afternoon when he missed the steer’s horns in the team roping competition with partner JC Flake, of Gillette College, a former Cowboy teammate. The pair were the 48th team roping duo up among the 56 teams competing in the day’s final event. The pair were the CRMR team roping champions this past season.