Three of the Vikings were each knocked down a spot in the third "go" standings in their events as the three-day-long round grinds toward completion. That cost Valley 30 points, although at 370 points the defending reserve champions remained in third place -- with the gap between them and meet-leading Sam Houston State (Texas) widening to 185 points.
The two Vikings who competed Thursday both finished their rides, but didn't score enough points to get into the finals -- each standing in 14th place in their respective events.
Senior saddle bronc rider Will Smith, the 2010 reserve champion, scored 57.5 points for 16th place in the final preliminary round. Only the top 12 move on to Saturday's championship round. Smith did contribute 70 points to the Vikings' total.
After being granted a re-ride the previous night due to sub-par horse, senior barebacker David Clapp notched a 70.0 score to tie for ninth place two-thirds of the way through the third go, but that didn't add team points. Clapp also is done with bull riding after being thrown for the third time Tuesday.
Also in 14th place and done for the week is sophomore Cody Metsker in steer wrestling, hurt by a no-score in his last turn.
Although the preliminaries will be completed today, two Vikings are firmly in the finals and a third is in favorable position to advance.
Junior Tanner Aus still leads in bareback, although he was knocked from first to second place in the third go by the 84.5 recorded by Justin Moldaschel of Casper (Wyo.) -- 3.5 points higher than the previous top score of the meet, an 81.0 posted by Aus in the second round.
Moldaschel drew to within 15 points of Aus and six more riders who have scored on their two previous attempts have yet to finish. However, only Greg "J.R." Vezain of Vernon (Texas) has a realistic chance of catching Aus for the lead, trailing by 76.0 points.
The team roping entry of Valley freshman Ben Runyon and Southern Arkansas' Justin Johnson dropped to third place in the third go -- knocked out of the top spot by the 5.7-second time posted by New Mexico State's Ethan Shelley and Cole Rogers -- and are in fourth place overall, with only four combos remaining who could score in all three of their attempts.
Senior Will Crain went from second to third in the final prelim in bull riding and currently sits in eighth place. Three riders will pass him by even without a successful third ride, having already out-pointed him in previous gos, but Crain will make it if no more than one of the seven entries yet to compete in the third round match or exceed his 67.0 score.
For Crain individually and the Vikings in general, the waiting continues -- with hopes that at least two, if not three, Saturday night performances will push them over the top.