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April 11, 2013 8:28 am

Northwest Trapper rodeo struggles in spring return

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NWC team faces tough climb back

The Northwest College Trappers had a sluggish spring return to the rodeo arena over the weekend at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont. The men’s team placed fourth in the first rodeo of the week before finishing fifth in the one-day Sunday rodeo.

The women’s team reversed those outcomes, finishing fifth in the debut competition of the 2013 spring semester. The Trapper women climbed one spot to fourth place on Sunday.

Those results mean both teams have a lot of work to do if they wish to earn team berths to the College National Finals Rodeo.

Newt Novich and Eric Knapp had the best finish in the weekend’s first rodeo, placing second and third, respectively, for the Trappers in steer wrestling. Colton Redmond added a third-place finish in tie-down roping. Ethan Hecht was fourth in bull riding and fifth in bareback for the Trappers.

On the women’s side. barrel racer Kylee McDonnell was the only Trapper to make her way into the top five of the final standings. McDonnell finished just in front of teammate Heather Knerr.

On Sunday, the Trapper women fared better with Knerr placing second in the all-around competition behind Montana Western’s Megan Crist. Knerr placed third in Sunday’s barrel racing and added a fourth-place goat tying finish. She was the only Trapper to place in the top five of a women’s event.

On the men’s side, Colton Redmond finished fifth in the men’s all-around standings after partnering with Devon Mitchell to score a fifth-place finish in team roping and later earning a seventh-place finish in steer wrestling.

The team roping pair of Trappers Shawn Bird and Zachary Schweigert won the team roping event.

No other Northwest College performers cracked the top five on Sunday.

Both Trapper teams began the week sitting in third place in the Big Sky region standings, needing to overcome gaps of roughly 400 points to climb into automatic qualifying positions for the College National Finals Rodeo. Those margins grew following the conclusion of Sunday’s competition.

The Trapper women remain in third place, but saw the gap between themselves and a spot in the top to balloon to more than 1,100 points. The Trapper men slipped behind Miles Community College and now are in fourth place in the region. The Trapper men face a deficit of just more than 900.

Individually, Ethan Hecht is third in the bull riding standings, but holds just a nine-point safety cushion on his automatic berth to the CNFR with three rodeos remaining.

Redmond is third in tie-down roping, but doesn’t have much room to relax either as he takes a 24-point lead over Montana State’s Ty Erickson into the eighth of 10 rodeos this collegiate season. Redmond and Mitchell are also knocking on the door of the team roping top three.

Steer wrestler Newt Novich remains comfortable as the region’s No. 2 competitor. Novich has a lead of more than 100 points over third place and nearly twice as many points as that of the fourth place competitor in his event.

On the women’s side, barrel racer Kaela Murphy is second in the standings for the Trappers. Heather Knerr is the team’s next-best performer for the season. Sitting at ninth in both the goat tying and barrel racing standings, she’ll have a lot of work to do over the last three rodeos of the season to move up to a spot in the top three and the automatic CNFR berth that would go with it.

Rodeo takes a couple weeks off again before the Trappers travel to Dawson Community College for an April 26-28 competition in Glendive, Mont.

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