After three days and two preliminary rounds at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, the Northwest College Trapper rodeo team has their work cut out for them as they head into the home stretch. Bad luck and rough draws have plagued the team, which came into the event ranked 11th in the nation.
“It’s been hit and miss, to be honest. Not good,” Trappers head coach Del Nose said Tuesday. “Our bronc rider [Calvin Shaffer] is sitting about 16th in bronc riding, with another horse coming up. One of our team ropers [Dawson Cvancara] is sitting 18th in team roping. It takes top 12 to get back, and we all got one more head.”
Trapper sophomore and CNFR veteran Bubba Boots currently sits in 30th place in team roping — along with teammate Matthew Williams — and 25th in steer wrestling. Boots, who placed second in the all-around at last year’s CNFR, has struggled this time around, especially with steers.
“Bubba’s drawn two steers so far that have been really hard to catch and really hard to throw,” Nose said. “There’s a lot of chances in the steer wrestling, and he just hasn’t picked one of them up yet.”
NWC’s Caleb McMillan, one of the favorites for the all-around title heading into the CNFR, is competing in three events: Tie-down roping, bull riding and saddle bronc riding. As of Wednesday, the sophomore sat in seventh place in the tie-down roping, 24th in bronc riding and 20th in bull riding.
“That’s kind of where we’re at,” Nose said. “We’re kind of shooting for some of the average points, but it’s definitely not going our way. This CNFR experience can be pretty humbling at times.”
Calling it a combination of “bad draws, the level of competition and mostly bad luck,” Nose said for any of the Trappers to make it to the finals in their respective events will take their best efforts the rest of the way.
“Bubba [Boots] missed his first steer in the team roping,” Nose explained. “Broncs were a little weak for Calvin [Shaffer], and Caleb [McMillan] bucked off both of his bulls, and he rode one bronc and was bucked off his first bronc. We’re just not hitting on all cylinders.”
The third round of prelims will go a long way toward determining which Trappers, if any, will be competing in the championship round this weekend.
“We’ve got the third round left, so we’ll see,” Nose said. “They [the Trappers] have got to be consistent. Caleb’s gonna need the fastest run in the calf roping, Calvin needs a real decent plus riding the broncs and Bubba needs to draw a decent steer.”
Wednesday gave the Trappers a bit of a reprieve from competition, with a softball tournament scheduled for most of the day.
“The softball game gives the guys a chance to relax; the regions play each other and the coaches,” Nose said. “But then they’re right back at it Wednesday evening.”
As for what Nose tells the team in terms of maintaining focus the rest of the week, he said it’s simple.
“You just tell them, ‘Hey guys, you got five minutes to think about it, then it’s go on to the next one,’” he said. “You can’t change it, you really didn’t make any mistakes. You can’t look back. It’s rodeo. There’s always another go-round. Go for the round win and get some points.”
As for competing in the finals?
“We’ve gotta think about getting there first. We just gotta place solid,” Nose said. “All the guys have the talent. They’re amazing athletes; they just gotta get it together.”