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Vezain sitting strong

Asay, Gill sing round two blues at CNFR

With a combined score of 158 points for his first two rides, Cowley’s J.R. Vezain is making his first College National Finals Rodeo appearance one to remember. The former high school national champion was the leader after two rounds of bareback competition in Casper.

Vezain, competing alongside Powell’s Kaleb Asay as a member of the defending national champion Vernon College men’s team, opened the 2011 CNFR with an 80.5-point ride. His ride was the only one in the 37-rider field to score better than 80 points in the opening round.

He followed that up on Monday with a 77.5-point ride. That performance placed him second overall among the round two scores. Combined with his score from Sunday’s ride, Vezain’s two-round total placed him atop the leaderboard entering round three.

Elevated to 12th in the world earlier this week and the runaway leader in the PRCA’s rookie bareback standings, Vezain will be one of the last riders to compete in the third round of the event. Barring disaster, any qualifying ride should earn him a spot in Saturday’s final round. Another ride in the upper 70s or lower 80s will likely make him the man everyone else is trying to catch in the Saturday’s short go.

Vezain’s success in the bareback was the lone bright spot for area riders in the CNFR’s second round. For Asay and Northwest College’s Jordan Gill, fortune turned sour.

Asay saw his dreams of repeating as a national champion take a significant hit on Monday when he took a no-score in the second round of saddle bronc competition. While his opening-round performance of 75.5 points left him in seventh place out of 38 riders after the first round, Asay will require a high-scoring ride and a lot of luck in the third round to reach Saturday’s short go.

Asay is scheduled to make that round 3 ride today (Thursday).

For Gill and Northwest College, the 2011 CNFR will be remembered for its disappointment. Gill opened his CNFR appearance with a no-score on Sunday. He took both his second and third round rides on Tuesday and had no better luck, failing to register a score.

The performance means the Trappers will finish the CNFR without tallying a team point on either the men’s or women’s side. Gill was the only member of the Northwest College rodeo team to advance to the 2011 CNFR.

Even Vezain wasn’t immune from the region’s round 2 jinx. Competing in the saddle bronc as well as the bareback, the Cowley native took his second consecutive no-score ride in the saddle bronc on Tuesday, failing to add to Vernon College’s point total.

Vernon sat in eighth place in the men’s team standings at the conclusion of Tuesday’s competition.

Vezain makes his final saddle bronc ride on Friday.

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