If the season ended today, the Trappers would find themselves qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo. Instead, they’ll simply have months to contemplate their position as college rodeo takes its annual winter break before five more …
Trappers second at season’s midpoint
The Northwest College women’s rodeo team brought home the team title from the University of Montana, Western event over the weekend. Buoyed by the performance, the Trappers vaulted over two schools and into second place in the Big Sky region standings.
If the season ended today, the Trappers would find themselves qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo. Instead, they’ll simply have months to contemplate their position as college rodeo takes its annual winter break before five more competitive dates in the spring.
“It would be fabulous,” Trapper coach Becky Nose said of the possibility the team could earn one of the region’s two automatic qualifying slots. “We haven’t had a women’s team go in a few years. It would say a lot about Northwest College and the rodeo program. We’re going to do our best to get there.”
Over the weekend, Cheyenne Saltsman captured the barrel racing title for the Trappers. It was the fourth time in five fall competitions that Saltsman has placed first in the event. She leads the Big Sky region standings in the event at the season’s midpoint.
“She just has nerves of steel and a horse that loves what it does,” Nose said of Saltsman’s success. “She has a great connection with that horse and they’re able to just go into the arena and perform.”
Also performing well over the weekend was the Trappers’ Heather Knerr, who placed fourth in the women’s all-around competition. Knerr was eighth overall in the barrel racing standings and added a runner-up performance in goat tying.
“They both had an outstanding weekend and between those two we had enough points to win,” Nose said.
The pair netted 280 team points for Northwest to finish well in front of the University of Montana, which was second at 185 points. Montana State and Miles Community College were the only schools to score team points.
Through five rodeos, the Trappers have 1,067.5 team points, well in back of region leader Montana State, which breaks for the winter with 1,717 points. The University of Montana is hot on the Trappers’ heels with 973 points. The University of Montana, Western is another 94 points back in fourth place.
“We’re very excited about the women’s team,” Nose said. “We’ve got some outstanding athletes, and if they can all pull it together on the same weekend, they’ll be really tough. I think they all want it and want to get there.”
On the men’s side, the Trappers placed sixth last weekend. Clinton Griffis was fifth in the men’s all-around after placing fourth in saddle bronc and fifth in the bareback.
“Clint is really coming on,” said Nose. “He’s very competitive in both of his events. I don’t think we went to a rodeo this fall that he didn’t score points in.”
Fellow bullrider Tyler Owens is fifth in the event while steer wrestler Newt Novich is fifth in that event. Griffis is sixth in the bareback standings.
Only the top three individuals in each event receive automatic qualifier status to the CNFR.
“The bull riders were a little uneven this fall, but hopefully we’ll be more consistent in the spring,” Nose said. “Newt had a couple bad rodeos, but I look for him to come back strong and to be hard to beat this spring.”
While several of the Trappers have plans to compete in various winter rodeos while waiting for the resumption of the college season, Nose notes the team is looking at other measures to help the team come back strong in the spring.
“We’re already looking at the second half,” Nose said. “We’re talking about hitting the weight room and getting on a regimented exercise program. We’ll have winter practices and look at getting everyone on the same page and ready to compete on the weekends this spring. We want to come back stronger.”
That’s important, Nose says, because the intensity level on the spring circuit takes a notable jump.
“The fall shows you what you need to do,” said Nose. “Everyone takes this first semester to jump into that next level and now you can sit back and come up with a strategy. It gets more competitive as everyone tries to get enough points for the CNFR.”