Vikings coming down to wire at CNFR
CASPER, Wyo. -- After making significant gains during the second and third days, the Missouri Valley College men's and women's teams settled into their spots during the College National Finals Rodeo at Casper, Wyo.
Over the past two days, the Vikings have added 25 points to their score on the men's side and lost the same amount in the women's tally.
Lose points? Since each round after the first long go is spread out over two to four days, those who are in scoring positions early often drop in the standings as they are passed by other competitors.
Hence, the 40 points assigned to Valley junior Kirbie Crouse for fifth place after Tuesday's third go in breakaway roping -- an event she won a year ago -- were eliminated as she dropped to 13th place, with a further decline possible as the preliminaries close out Friday.
Crouse is not out of the running for the championship, though. Her three-round average of 18.0 seconds has her currently in third place. With only three contestants capable of completing her third attempt, Crouse is assured of being in the top six for Saturday's 12-man short go.
Neither of the Lady Vikings' two other breakaway entries have competed since Monday, freshman Lindsay Kraus and junior Breanna Ellis hoping they can rise from the respective 45th and 46th places into the top 12.
Valley got 45 points from Ellis as she tied for third place in goat tying with a time of 6.4 seconds Wednesday. However, she's in 30th place at 30.3 seconds due to a poor first-round time.
Crouse is tied for 12th and freshman Fallon Dyer shares 17th place, but a handful of the 11 competitors awaiting their third gos can pass the former with only mediocre times.
The Lady Vikings slipped one spot to 10th place with 120 points. Sam Houston State (Texas) has taken a substantial, although surmountable, lead of 310 to 210 points over Tarleton State (Texas) in the team title race.
The Valley men remain in 13th place with 195 points, trailing Panhandle State (Okla.) at 460 points and Sam Houston State at 385.
Accounting for the Vikings' increase in points was the 25 scored by senior Matt Borton in the third round of bareback riding Thursday. His score of 73.5 points tied for seventh place, putting him eighth for the entire meet with nine contestants due to finish their prelims Friday -- only two of whom can catch him, ensuring Borton a spot in the championship round.
Senior Dalton Kingery, thrown on his first two attempts, finally posted a score Thursday, but his 67.5 points was 13th on the list and didn't produce points.
Also in good shape for the finals is senior Fenton Nelsen in steer wrestling. His third go Wednesday was 6.1 seconds. While that was only 12th in the round, which has 11 more riders remaining to perform, his average score of 16.1 has him in second place with only two of those remaining to finish the long go capable of catching up.
One of those is Valley junior Ben Kilburg, currently in 38th place with 11.0 points -- fourth among those also scheduled to finish Friday. If he equals only the worst of his two previous times, he's in the championship show.
Junior Briar Dittmer took his third no-score in bull riding Thursday and is out of that event -- as well as a chance at an all-around cowboy award. However, he's clinging to the edge of short-go qualification in saddle bronc riding with a score of 139.5 points for two completed rides -- currently ninth, with three of the remaining entries needing only a third successful ride in Friday's go to pass him.
Kingery and senior Cody Crim finished up saddle bronc Tuesday with no scores, so they are done.
While the Valley men would need outstanding scores for a top four spot in the team standings, the Lady Vikings -- the 2016 reserve champions -- have a realistic chance of repeating with strong performances over the final two days.
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