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September 15, 2011 8:55 am

Three Trappers lead big sky region

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Steer wrestler Jace Salutregui gets nothing but a face-full of rodeo arena dirt to show for his steer wrestling efforts on Friday night. While the weekend didn’t go well for the Ontario, Ore., native, Northwest College’s Newt Novich currently sits atop the Big Sky Region steer wrestling standings. Steer wrestler Jace Salutregui gets nothing but a face-full of rodeo arena dirt to show for his steer wrestling efforts on Friday night. While the weekend didn’t go well for the Ontario, Ore., native, Northwest College’s Newt Novich currently sits atop the Big Sky Region steer wrestling standings. Tribune photo by Kevin Kinzley

Season opens strong for NWC rodeo team

Northwest College came within 60 points — the equivalent of a third-place finish — from knocking off defending women’s national champion Montana State University on Saturday as college rodeo season opened in Cody last weekend. After two full rodeos, three Trappers currently sit atop the Big Sky Region standings.

“It was a great first weekend of rodeo for the region and for Powell,” said Becky Nose, one of three coaches for this year’s Trapper rodeo team. “We had a great crowd on Friday night and Saturday’s was even better. The weather was perfect — it couldn’t have been better.”

The performances couldn’t have been much better either. Of the 10 event rankings, three are currently led by Northwest College competitors.

Newt Novich sits atop the steer wrestling standings with 252 points. That puts him 57 points in front of the current No. 2.

“Newt is a freshman that I’ve watched come up,” Nose said. “I knew how capable he was. He’s very talented and just a great athlete.”

On the women’s side, Cheyenne Saltsman leads the barrel racing standards after opening weekend. Steffani Hofrichter heads the pack in goat tying.

“Cheyenne’s another freshman, and her strength is that she’s very smooth and very calm and collected,” said Nose. “This weekend was actually the first time I’d seen that horse run, and I was very impressed. I look for her to be a very serious contender as the year goes on. As for Steffani, she’s just proven herself time after time. She’s a dedicated competitor and it isn’t a surprise to see her where she is.”

Four more Trappers, all on the men’s side, sit in the top five of their events after opening weekend. Tyler Owens sits third in the bull riding standings with 126 points, just 19 behind the co-leaders. Teammate Timothy Stevenson is fifth in bull riding.

In the bareback standings, returning team member Clinton Griffis is fourth overall. Mitch Randall sits fifth in the saddle bronc.

As a team, the Northwest College women sit in second place within the region with 607.5 points. Montana State University rode a strong Friday showing to a score of 1,172 to lead the Big Sky Region, but the Trappers nearly tripled the team score of third-place University of Motana, which left Cody with 208 points overall.

The Trapper men sit in fifth place after scoring 636 points. Leaders after two rodeos in the men’s division are Montana-Western (1,250.5 points), Montana State University (1,117.5) and the University of Montana (961.5).

The opening weekend of rodeo did contain one scare for the Trappers. Paul Peterson took a dangerous-looking spill on Saturday night and was attended to for several minutes.

“He hit his head and it knocked him cold,” Nose said, adding that at the time they were concerned that Peterson may have broken his leg as well. “We’re not quite sure what happened, but he was definitely stunned.”

In true rodeo fashion, though, Peterson was back on his feet and walking around the rodeo grounds within the hour, Nose said.

“He’s got a concussion and we’re waiting to talk to a doctor and see when they might clear him,” said Nose. “He’ll probably miss a couple rodeos. Worst-case, he might have to sit out until the spring portion of the schedule.”

The Trapper rodeo team travels to Havre, Mont., this weekend to continue the regular season.

Friday results

Men’s team: Montana-Western 900, Miles CC 554, Montana State 475.5, Northwest College 330.5, Montana 306.5, Dawson 145, Montana State-Northern 107.

Women’s team: Montana State 661, Montana-Western 157, Northwest College 148.5, Dawson 126, Little Big Horn 88, Montana 82.

Saddle bronc — 1. (tie) Mitch Randall 76.

Bareback — 6. Clinton Griffis 67.

Bull Riding — 2. Tyler Owens 72, 3. Timothy Stevenson 70.

Steer Wrestling — 1. Newt Novich 3.8.

Barrel Racing — 1. Cheyenne Saltsman 17.61.

Goat Tying — 1. (tie) Steffani Hofrichter 8.9, 8. Heather Knerr 10.0.

Saturday results

Men’s team: Montana 655, Montana State 642, Montana-Western 350.5, Miles CC 342.5, Northwest College 305.5, Montana State-Northern 271, Dawson 233.

Women’s team: Montana State 511, Northwest College 459, Montana 126, Dawson 69, Great Falls 69, Montana-Western 32, Montana State-Northern 13.

Men’s All-Around — 5. Clinton Griffis 129.5.

Women’s All-Around — 2. Steffani Horfichter 195, 4. Heather Knerr 119.

Saddle Bronc — 7. Clinton Griffis 64.

Bareback — 3. Clinton Griffis 72.

Steer Wrestling — 3. Newt Novich 4.7.

Team Roping — 4. Steffani Hofrichter and Pamela Vanek (Montana State-Billings) 10.4, 5. Heather Knerr and Zachary Schweigert 10.9.

Barrel Racing — 1. Cheyenne Saltsman 17.58, 6. Heather Knerr 18.16.

Goat Tying — 3. Steffani Hofrichter 9.0.

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