After having mediocre results during the first half of the Central Rocky Mountain Region competition last fall, the Chadron State College women’s rodeo team caught fire in the spring and will be riding high going into the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper on June 10-16.
The Chadron State team was mired in seventh place among the 13 teams in the region at the halfway point in the season. It had just 443 points through the five autumn rodeos. Coach Dustin Luper admitted that he was disappointed. He had expected more.
He got much more in the spring, when things began to click. The CSC cowgirls scored 220 points at the first spring rodeo, which was hosted by Gillette College. And that was just the beginning. The second rodeo of the spring was at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on March 30-April 1. That’s where the CSC team tallied 510 points to win the team trophy and climb into fourth place in the region.
Chadron State’s total at Fort Collins was 210 more points than runner-up Wyoming scored.
More good times were ahead. The CSC team shared the team title with Northeastern Junior College of Sterling, Colo., at the Eastern Wyoming College rodeo April 5-7 and won the championship again at the Casper College rodeo April 20-22 by scoring a whopping 520 points.
That vaulted CSC into second place in the region and gave them a chance to qualify for the CNFR as a team for the first time since 1986.
There was still one rodeo to go and both NJC and Gillette were still within striking range to overcome CSC for the coveted trip to nationals. The Colorado team was just 90 points behind CSC and Gillette was only 228.
Gillette won the women’s team championship at the final rodeo, which was hosted by the University of Wyoming the last weekend in April, by scoring 300 points. However, Chadron State tallied 230 to clinch the national finals berth.
For the year, Central Wyoming led the team standings with 3,063.33 points while CSC was second with 2,483.33 and Gillette third with 2,325 and NJC fourth with 2,243.
Two seniors, Kelsey Scott of Douglas, Wyo., and Kaylee Gallino of Wasta, S.D., led the way.
Scott wrapped up a spectacular spring by winning the region’s breakaway roping championship, placing third among the team roping headers and earning the runner-up all-around cowgirl title.
She admits she’s already set some lofty goals for the national rodeo. She wants to win top honors in each of her categories and help the CSC team win the championship, too. She believes all are within the realm of possibility.
At the end of the five rodeos last fall, Scott had collected 260 points in breakaway roping to hold a 30-point lead over Kaycee Nelson of the University of Wyoming. Nelson had been first and Scott was second in the final regional standings the previous year.
Kelsey’s highlights last fall included winning first at the Sheridan College rodeo, placing fourth at the Laramie County Community College rodeo in Cheyenne and winning the first go-round at the Central Wyoming College rodeo in Riverton.
But her best was yet to come. She left the other breakaway ropers in the dust this spring by tripling her fall point total. She placed at least fourth at all five of the spring rodeos.
She was fourth at the Gillette College rodeo in mid-March, won both go-rounds at Colorado State University in Fort Collins on March 30-April 1 to easily claim the title, was third the next weekend at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, was the overall winner again at Casper College on April 20-22 and placed fourth at the final regular season rodeo of the year at the University of Wyoming.
A broken barrier cost Kelsey the breakaway championship at UW. She caught her second calf in 2.6 seconds, but a 10-second penalty had to be added to that mark.
Entering the final rodeo in Laramie, Kelsey had averaged 2.9 seconds on her previous eight trips out of the chute this spring. Even with the 10-second “speeding ticket,” her average at the five spring rodeos was under 4.0 seconds.
For the year, Kelsey accumulated 780 points in breakaway roping. Lydia Coe of UW finished second with 330 and Talia Sunde of Casper College was third with 325. Nelson wound up fourth, just 2.5 points behind Sunde.
However, Kelsey’s 450-point victory margin was not the primary “talking point” in the region. Her competitors were most impressed that she had placed among the top 10 in the first go-round and qualified for the finals at all 10 rodeos during the season. Veteran observers said that is something “that never happens” in any of college rodeo’s nine events.
Kelsey also went on the rampage in team roping this spring.
While she usually entered the team roping during the fall, she never earned a point in the event. That was also the situation at the Gillette rodeo to open the spring season.
She noticed that Matt Schieck of Sheridan College, who specializes in heeling, also was not having much luck. After both were blanked at Gillette, Kelsey asked him if he’d like to rope with her and see if they could make things click.
“He said he guessed we could try it at Colorado State in two weeks,” Kelsey said.
Things worked out well.
The new team of Scott and Schieck won both go-rounds in 6.5 and 7.2 seconds in Fort Collins to win top honors. The next week at Torrington, they were second in both go-rounds in 6.8 and 7.0 seconds and took second overall. At the third rodeo two weeks later at Casper, they won all the marbles again. This time, they were second in the first go-round in 6.9 seconds and won the championship go-round in 7.4 seconds.
Their average time on their first six runs after becoming team roping partners was an amazing 6.9 seconds.
The new duo did not place at the UW rodeo, but no one could catch them and they each finished third in the regional standings to qualify for nationals. They did it all at just three rodeos.
“Matt is from Casper and I remembered him from high school,” Kelsey said. “The good thing is our homes are only about 45 miles apart and we’ll be able to practice a few times before the national rodeo. I’m excited about our possibilities.”
Kelsey notes that her rodeo success helps offset the fact that she was advised to not play basketball again this past year because of the concussions she had suffered through the years with her rambunctious play that including battling for rebounds, diving for loose balls and taking more than her share of charges.
“I would have loved to have played basketball again, particularly because it was my senior year,” said Kelsey, a three-year starter in the post area for the Eagles. “But this (rodeo success) helps me feel better about things.”
There’s more good news concerning someone who might rightfully be dubbed “the Great Scott.” Since she has been the student representative on the Central Rocky Mountain board of directors the past two years, she will earn another year of rodeo eligibility and can compete again next year. However, she cannot be a member of the Chadron State team again.
Gallino also figured prominently in the Chadron team’s national qualification. She finished second in the barrel racing standings in the region with another late charge.
Gallino and her faithful bay gelding, Bob, placed just once during the five rodeos last fall, and that was sixth at the Chadron State rodeo, which opened the season in the region.
But during the spring portion of the schedule, they hit their stride.
They came in second at the Gillette College rodeo in mid-March and also placed high at all three of the final rodeos.
Gallino was the all-around cowgirl at the Eastern Wyoming College rodeo, where she won both go-rounds of breakaway roping to claim the championship in that event and placed second in the final barrel racing standings.
At the next rodeo, hosted by Casper College, Gallino was fifth in the barrels. She clinched her trip to the CNFR by winning the barrel race at the University of Wyoming rodeo on April 27-29 to wrap up the season. Her times at Laramie were 15.29 and 15.23 seconds.
She finished the season with 660 points to clinch runner-up honors in the region’s barrel racing standings. Besides riding Bob in the cloverleaf pattern in Casper next month, she’ll also compete in breakaway roping at the national rodeo. She was ninth in the region’s final breakaway standings, but as she proved at Eastern Wyoming, where her times were 2.2 and 2.4 seconds as she won both go-rounds, she can be deadly with a rope in her hands.
Gallino has a strong Chadron State heritage. Her grandfather, Dr. Joe Lytle of Rapid City, played basketball for the Eagles in the mid-1950s and her mother, Jody, was a member of the CSC rodeo team in the 1980s. An uncle, Rusty Lytle, also competed in rodeo at CSC and three cousins are CSC graduates.
The third member of the Chadron State team that will compete at the national rodeo is freshman Katie Loughran of Broken Bow.
She was placed on the team because of her strong showing in the barrel race late this spring. She finished second twice and third once during the four rodeos in April and wound up sixth in the regional standings.
Loughran began her winning skein after her paint gelding, “Blow the Smoke,” recovered sufficiently from an injury he suffered about a year ago and returned to action.
Loughran also has a CSC heritage. Her father, Randy, is a 1978 graduate.
A Chadron State cowboy, Miles Spickelmier of Imperial, also has qualified for the national rodeo by tying for first place in the region’s final steer wrestling standings.
He finished the year with 425 points, the same as Stetson Jorgensen of Central Wyoming College at Riverton accumulated.
The top three contestants in each event in the region qualify for the national rodeo.
Spickelmier got the 2011-12 season off to a great start by winning the steer wrestling at the Chadron State rodeo Sept. 9-11. He also was second at the Eastern Wyoming College rodeo in Torrington and was fourth at the rodeos hosted by Lamar College and Casper College.
The Lamar rodeo was last fall and the Eastern Wyoming and Casper rodeos were in April.
Although he did not place in the overall standings, Spickelmier picked up enough points to tie for the region’s steer wrestling championship when he was sixth in the first go-round at the University of Wyoming rodeo to conclude the schedule
He also qualified for the national rodeo in steer wrestling last year by finishing third in the region. At nationals, he was 13th among the approximately 45 steer wrestlers after the three preliminary go-rounds, but only 12 advance to the finals.
This year, he’s hoping to make that coveted fourth go-round. His hazer at nationals will be another CSC senior, Jake Kraupie of Bridgeport.
Kraupie is the hazer “for about half the steer wrestlers in the region,” Spickelmier noted.
In order to place high in the steer wrestling standings, Spickelmier often had to beat out his CSC teammates. Clint Lambrecht finished fifth and Kraupie sixth in the final regional standings in the event this year.
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