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April 06, 2010 3:22 am

Trapper rodeo team resumes season

Written by Tribune Staff

Northwest faces tall task in Big Sky Region

After a winter layoff, the Northwest College rodeo team springs into competition this weekend. The Trappers will travel to the first of five spring-semester rodeos as the season builds toward the College National Finals Rodeo.

Right now, the Trappers have some work to do if they plan on being a significant part of that CNFR field.

“We didn't have a real good fall,” notes NWC rodeo coach Del Nose. “We had a little bad luck, a few freshmen jitters. Things just didn't go real good for us.”

Northwest College emerges from the winter break in fourth position on the women's side and in sixth position on the men's side of the eight-school Big Sky Region standings. The top two men's and women's teams at season's end advance to the CNFR.

“We've been practicing since March,” Nose said. “I look for us to have a good spring season, I really do. I think we'll make some strides in the standings, especially the women's team. I think they'll make a jump right up in there.”

That said, Nose notes his focus for the spring semester isn't on the Trappers' spot in the team standings. Rather, the Trappers' coach has his attention on getting his NWC athletes into the top three of the individual event standings —a status that automatically qualifies that person for a spot in the CNFR field.

“The key deal is to get kids in the top three,” Nose said. “If you can do that, the team will take care of itself going to the finals.”

Looking at those coveted top three spots, the Trappers have a number of folks in position to contend throughout the spring semester.

That list is weighted heavily toward the women's side of the ledger.

Cody Proctor and Haily Hamlin currently reside as the No. 2 and No. 3 breakaway ropers within the region. The pair will spend the spring looking to defend that position against a field that includes six challengers lurking within 100 points.

Steffani Hofrichter begins her spring tied for third in goat tying. Trapper teammate Pamela Vanek is currently ninth in the standings, but Nose expects her to move up.

“Both Steffani and Pam have worked hard at it,” said Nose. “I think both girls will make their mark in that event.”

On the men's side, Samuel Shelton starts the spring in third place on the steer wrestling charts. Shelton holds a slim 26-point cushion over the fourth-place competitor at present.

“He's bulldogging strong,” said Nose. “He's looking really good. He spent part of his Christmas break down at a bulldogging school in the Southwest. He's done what he needed to do to stay focused and be ready physically for the spring semester.”

Nose also looks for Casey Good to make a charge up the tie-down roping charts.

“He was fifth in the nation last year,” Nose said. “This fall, he struggled a bit with bad draws and he had a horse that wasn't really cooperating. I could see him making a big climb this semester though.”

If he wants to return to the CNFR this season, Good will have to climb. He currently sits 12th in the tie-down standings, trailing the third-place spot by 107 points. Good, along with teammate Mark Hamlin, also sits in 10th position on the Big Sky Region's team roping charts.

Other Northwest College competitors starting the spring semester in the top 10 of an event include Thomas Nerlin (ninth, saddle bronc), Clinton Griffis (eighth, bareback), Tyler Owens (eighth, bullriding, and ninth, bareback) and Jason Carlson (eighth, team roping header).

The Trappers lost one contender when Tucker Zingg, fourth in the bareback standings after the fall schedule, transferred schools between semesters.

The Trappers head to Montana State University for competition this Thursday through Sunday.

“That's always a fun one for the kids to go to,” Nose said of the Bozeman, Mont., rodeo. “It's indoors. There's always huge crowds. It's a fun way for the kids to start up the spring semester and I'm expecting that we'll go up there and have a good showing. The kids have worked hard. Our mid-term grades looked good. We're ready to go."