NWC roper in contention at CNFR


Ehlers' success the bright for Northwest Trappers so far

Breakaway roper Jessica Ehlers followed a solid first-round time of 3.2 seconds with a blazing time of 2.6 seconds in her second go on Tuesday night to position herself well heading to round three of the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper. Ehlers was scheduled to take her third run on Wednesday night after the paper went to press.

“Jessie’s been a bright spot for us,” said Trapper rodeo coach Del Nose. “She’s been doing real well and if she can do it one more time, she should be in the short go.”

The 12 fastest cumulative times through three rounds advance to the final round. Heading into Wednesday’s action, Ehlers sat in a tie for fifth place in the field of 55 competitors. Third-round performances in breakaway roping are scattered throughout Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s CNFR sessions, meaning that Ehlers won’t know her status for the finals until late in the week.

For the rest of the Trappers, the College National Finals Rodeo has been a rough go. That includes for their head coach. Nose and another arena worker were kicked by a horse early in the CNFR. For a period of time, it was feared Nose may have broken a kneecap in the incident.

“I was up on the fence and so was another guy, but the horse kicked higher than we jumped and caught me in the kneecap and the other guy in the thigh,” Nose said of the incident. “They did some X-rays and thought it might be broken, but then they did a little more and decided what they saw was probably from the last time I broke it. I’d tend to agree, because it’s not flopping around like it was the last time it was broken.”

Nose added that he was “getting around pretty good” and was “going to start climbing stairs again” on Wednesday.

In the arena, bullrider Tyler Owens was thrown for a second consecutive round, but that hardly made him unique at this year’s CNFR. Through two rounds, 23 of the 37 bullriders have yet to turn in a qualified ride. Only two have been successful in each of their two rounds so far.

“Tyler’s in a position where, if he can get a good ride in his third round, he could still make the top 12,” Nose said. “Not a lot of kids are scoring, so that door is still open for him.”

Owens’ third-round ride is scheduled for tonight (Thursday).

For bareback rider Clinton Griffis, the second round produced a score of 62 points, leaving him well down the charts as he contemplates his third round on Friday.

Barrel racer Cheyenne Saltsman took her second and third round rides on Tuesday, clocking times of 14.81 seconds and 14.56 seconds. Added together with her Monday opening ride, the cumulative time put Saltsman in seventh place among 12 riders to finish all three prelim rounds. Another 35 riders have yet to take their third run around the barrels, leaving Saltsman in a precarious position.

“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” said Nose. “There’s just too many fast times out there. Gals would have to knock over a lot of barrels I think.”

Heather Knerr turned in a time of 4.1 seconds in the second round of the breakaway, bouncing back from a no score in round one. She also had a time of 9.4 seconds in her second round of goat tying, pairing that with an earlier time of 8.8.

“Heather’s having troubles with her horse,” said Nose. “She’s been cut off twice in goat tying.”

Meanwhile, Steffani Hofrichter saw her dreams of a possible national title in goat tying evaporate after her goat was able to get back to its feet after her round two run. Hofrichter had turned in a solid time of 7.9 seconds to open the CNFR.

In the team standings, the Trapper women are now on the scoreboard and entered Wednesday tied for 20th place with 75 points. Chadron State College was in the lead with 185 points overall. The Trapper women are making their first appearance as a team at this year’s CNFR.

On the men’s side, Northwest College had yet to receive a team point. Walla Walla Community College leads the men’s team standings with 460 points.

“It ain’t quite going the way we thought it’d go,” Nose said of the 2012 CNFR. “We’ll keep going and try to close things out on a good note. Hopefully Jessie can keep going.”