Rough ride: Rodeo team struggles at nationals

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Skya Defa in Breakaway Roping at the College National Finals Rodeo. Courtesy of UVU Rodeo
Skya Defa in Breakaway Roping at the College National Finals Rodeo. Courtesy of UVU Rodeo

Sometimes, a rider is only as good as his or her horse.

That was the message from Rodeo coach Shane Draper, whose team found itself struggling midway through the College National Finals Rodeo. Draper was less than pleased with the stock some of the team, especially the men, drew for their events.

“We’d be getting some weak stock and that’d drop our score a little more than we’d like,” Draper said. “Then someone else would get a really nice horse and ride it really well, so that drops us back a little more.”

When asked how much of the team’s 45th place standing (as of last Thursday) should be placed on their stock draw, Draper responded, “Ninety percent.”

Draper was quick to point out that small errors by the riders themselves also contributed to their subpar performance.

“When we see something that needs to be fixed, we do that,” Draper said. “The main thing is not to get down on yourself, because that really sends the momentum in the opposite direction.”

Tyler Evans received scores of 63.5 and 67 in the first and second rounds of saddle bronc riding, before pulling a no-score in the third. Luke Pulham also struggled in tie down roping, with both his first and second-round times eclipsing the 20-second mark.

Jake Woolstenhulme shook off a mediocre 8.5 seconds in the first round of steer wrestling by shaving three seconds off that mark in his second go-around. The opposite was true for McKay Taylor, teamed up with Utah State’s Colton Thacker in team roping. After an encouraging time of 9.2 in round one, the duo received consecutive no-scores in the following rounds.

UVU’s veteran core made a strong showing, however. Caleb Bennett and Colton Bair both scored in the mid-seventies through two rounds of bareback riding, keeping them in the hunt for contention. Meanwhile Hilary Bair took times of 6.6 and 7.0 seconds in her first and second rounds of goat tying, respectively.

“I’m impressed with their performance, but at the same time, we expect it from them,” Draper said. “They’ve been here three, four years so they’ve been here before. It’s nice knowing you can count on them.”

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