University of Wyoming’s Josee Vogel and Jake Smith faced long odds heading into Saturday night’s short go at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in the Casper Events Center. Vogel only had the 12th best time going into goat tying, while Smith had just one qualified ride in bull riding. Not good odds for the UW team members. They just went out hoping to be in the money in the CNFR’s final round. They were the only UW team members to qualify for the championship round. Vogel knew she didn’t have a chance to finish at the top of the goat tying standings, so she went out to win the round. She came close, posting the second-best time in the event’s final round at 6.4 seconds, placing her in a tie for seventh in the average with an accumulated time of 26.9 seconds. The Pavillion sophomore entered the short go in the 12th and final spot among the short go finalists, meaning that she was the first tyer up in the event. And she set the pace with a 6.4 run. It held up for the next 10 riders, and was only eclipsed by eventual national champion Shelby Winchell of Chadron State College, whose 6.3 time propelled her to a four-round time of 25 seconds. “I was kind of hoping to go for it. I ran my horse down harder, but I think I got off a little bit too early,” Vogel said. “My goat lay down, and I had to pull him out of the ground. It wasn’t ideal, and I did what I could do with him. Each round got better for me, so I can’t complain too much.” This was the first time Vogel qualified for the CNFR. “It’s been a whirlwind week, and it’s great to get my first one out of the way,” she said. “I was glad to get my first short round out of the way and, hopefully, I get better next year. For my first one, I was excited; I just wished I would have done better.” The UW women finished the year tying with Northwestern Oklahoma University for 19th place in the final CNFR standings with 102 points. Blue Mountain Community College took the women’s team title with 595 points. The highest placing Central Rocky Mountain Region (CRMR) team was Chadron State College, which placed fourth with 315 points. Smith’s final ride of the season was over in a matter of seconds when Elise Said What took a wicked left-hand turn one jump out of the chute and tossed the LaSalle, Colo., sophomore in just 2.8 seconds. “I knew one of my buddies got on him and said he was a good bull. I was excited to get on him,” Smith said. “I didn’t come out of the chute like I needed to be. He beat me coming out of that first corner, and I couldn’t catch up.” Walla Walla Community College’s Cody Hudson won the bull riding total, covering two bulls for 159.5 points. Only six riders had two successful marks the entire week. Smith opened the CNFR last Sunday with an opening round score of 77.5 points to place second in the round. “I started out strong this week, and I just couldn’t get another one rode,” Smith said. “I need to build on that for next year, and my next stepping stone is to make it back again next year. Next season, I want to make the short round again and just do better.” All seven UW team members -- a full four-member women’s team and three Cowboys -- qualified for their first CNFR this week. The Cowboys tied with two other teams -- Central Wyoming College and Central Iowa Community College -- for 36th place with 85 team points. Feather River College was the men’s national champion with 1,000 points. The highest placing CRMR team was regional champion Chadron State with 120 points for 32nd place. WATCH Vogel's Saturday night run for you along with a brief visit afterward.
Feature Photo: Screen shot from video via Team Wyoming Rodeo Hand facebook