Vikings open CNFR with 95 points

Monday, June 11, 2018
Valley freshman Jesse Pope tied for the top spot in bareback riding during the first long go. (Dan Hubbell/CNFR)

CASPER, Wyo. -- The Missouri Valley College men's team opened the 70th College National Finals Rodeo with two cowboys scoring in the first long go-round Sunday.

In the 20th anniversary of the event's venue at Casper, Wyo., freshman Jesse Pope of Waverly, Kan., tied for first place in bareback riding with Montana State senior Jesse Nelson with a score of 78.5 points. Although one reride in on deck, the Vikings will likely emerge from the round with 75 points for Pope -- who won the event in eight of nine Ozark Region rodeos to place first in the final standings by a whopping 465 points.

The other Valley barebacker, senior Briar Dittmer of Runnels, Iowa, wasn't able to complete his ride. However, the region's No. 1 all-around cowboy scored in his second event, placing seventh in saddle bronc riding with a 74.5-point tally -- good for 20 team points.

Two other Vikings competed in saddle bronc, but senior Cody Crim of Wagner, S.C., and sophomore Trey Watts of Williamsport, Pa., didn't score. Neither did Valley's lone bull rider, senior Justin Stultz of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Pope and Stultz will have their second preliminary rides during Monday's slack, when first-round debuts will be made by freshman Roy Lee of Benton, Ark., in tie-down roping and senior Ben Kilburg of LaMotte, Iowa, in steer wrestling. Second gos for Dittmer -- in both of his events -- Watts and Crim will be held during Tuesday's slack, with Crim completing his prelims later in the day during the performance session.

The Lady Vikings came up empty in breakaway roping during Sunday's matinee, a 3.0-second time by senior Kirbie Crouse of Gallatin just missing the top-eight scoring cut with a 10th-place showing. Junior Kate Grover of Gresco, Iowa, was 25th with a time of 4.1 seconds.

Crouse will complete this event during two Tuesday sessions, while Grover has her second-round attempt Monday morning -- when Crouse and senior Jacy Nelsen of Iowa City begin their competition in goat-tying and senior Cassidy Webster of Kingdom City begins barrel racing Monday and finished up the long go Tuesday.

Team scores after Sunday's program was unavailable at press time.

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