Cole Wheeler from Weatherford College and Wesley Thorp from Ranger College clinched the national championship in team roping Saturday night at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.
Wheeler (header) and Thorp (heeler) started the event by winning the first go with a time of 5.1. They maintained that lead throughout the week, posting a 6.1 in the second go, a 5.1 in the third go and a 7.6 in the finals. They finished with an aggregate score of 24.4 Saturday, 2.2 ahead of the second place team.
“I knew Cole and Wesley were going to be one of the favorites up there to win, and if they would just go out and stay within themselves, do what they know how to do, that would be good enough,” said Johnny Emmons, WC Rodeo Coach. “There are a lot of variables in rodeo, but with the talent they have, if they just stayed solid, it would turn out good, and it did.”
This was Wheeler’s second trip to the CNFR. The Bullard, Texas native also qualified in 2014.
“I was so proud of the way they handled the pressure on Saturday,” Emmons said. “Coming back number one, they were required to be at the press room at 8 o’clock that morning for interviews, pictures and open ceremony rehearsals. They were there all morning and then roped last. With all the pressure, it’s a long, exhausting day. Then they went out on a hard-running steer, made that run…it was more than awesome!”
Wheeler is the third WC athlete to win a CNFR title (Cody Tew, 2007 team roping; Arena Robertson, 2008 All-Around Female).
The WC men’s team finished in fourth place overall, the highest finish in school history. WC amassed 525 points over the week. Feather River College (CA) won the men’s title and Blue Mountain Community College (OR) won the women’s.
“Finishing fourth was outstanding, especially considering we only had three guys there, and many of the teams had six,” Emmons said.
WC’s Lane Livingston finished fifth in the men’s overall standings, earning a total of 155 points. He and roping partner Reno Stoebner of Ranger College finished sixth overall in team roping after winning the short go Saturday with an impressive 5.5. Livingston also picked up points in tie down roping, finishing 29th with an aggregate time of 31.5.
Casey Tew (WC) and Keely Bennett (New Mexico JC) turned heads in the third round with the fastest team roping run in CNFR history, a blistering 3.9. The duo finished 29th overall.
Aspyn Dent had two strong runs in goat tying but posted no score in the third round. She finished 47th.
Athletes from WC have qualified for the CNFR in 12 straight seasons.
“I have kind of expected a showing like this for the last three years,” Emmons said. “We’ve been fortunate to have the talent we’ve had here.”