Current Edition

current edition

Las Vegas, Nev. – For 10 days at the beginning of December, the best cowboys and cowgirls in the  Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) competed for world titles and $10 million in cash and prizes at the 58th Annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR).

Wyoming’s favorite bullfighter Dusty Tuckness was once again awarded the honor of Bullfighter of the Year, marking five wins for the Meeteetse man.

Tuckness told the Las Vegas Sun,  “I’ll keep doing this as long as the good Lord allows me. I know it’s a sport where anything can happen, so I take it day-by-day, rodeo-by-rodeo. I still feel like I have a handful of years left, and I’m going to make the best of them.”

The 2016 NFR brought several historic moments, including the first all-around gold buckle win by a Brazilian, with Junior Nogueria’s top spot as a team roping heeler.

Nogueria is one of only three all-around champs since 2002, joining Trevor Brazile and Ryan Jarrett for the title.

Tyler Waguespack also made history in steer wrestling at the 2016 NFR with the most money earned in steer wrestling at the event. Waguespack earned $213,218, which also earned him the RAM Top Gun Award for the contestant with the most money earned in a single event.

Bareback rider Tim O’Connell also set a PRCA record for most money won in any event in any year, with $374,272.

Inside the results, Wyoming’s sole competitor, JR Vezain of Cowley ended eighth overall in the world standings and tied for second and third in the average at the NFR.

Vezain also had some impressive showings during the event. In the third round, Vezain placed sixth with a score of 81, and he ended fourth in the seventh round, with a score of 81.5. He also tied for third and fourth in the eighth round with a score of 85. 

Behind the scenes, Dan Hubbell of Hubbell Rodeo Photos in Casper also celebrated a milestone, as he marked 20 years photographing the NFR.

This article was compiled by Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, from Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – With a year behind them that Casper College Rodeo Coach Tom Parker marked as top-notch, Casper College Thunderbirds men’s rodeo team is headed to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 12-18 in Casper.

“I would have said it would be tough to top last year’s men’s team, but these young men never gave up, and they worked hard to the very last rodeo to the last contestant,” Parker comments. “We’re thankful these men are here at Casper College.”

Parker noted that the rodeo season for 2015-16 wasn’t easy, adding, “When it came down to the last rodeo of the season in Laramie, they knew what they had to do.”

Final event

During the last rodeo of the 2015-16 season, Parker explains, “When it came to the very last contestant, we were 89 points behind Gillette. It took everybody’s effort, but we beat Gillette by 130 points, and the full men’s team will compete at CNFR.”

Tie-down ropers Tyler Weeding and Bryce Bott earned 250 points between the two of them in the championship round of the Laramie River Rendezvous, and Bott won the rodeo.

The team came out as the 2015-16 Central Rocky Mountain Region Reserve Champions. This marks the second year in a row the team hit the reserve champion mark.

Team members who will compete at CNFR include Coley Nicholls in team roping, Bott in calf roping, Weeding in calf roping, Trevin Fox in steer wrestling, JW Meiers in saddle bronc and Dylan Wahlert in bareback bronc.

From the athletes

Students competing on the rodeo team all mention that rodeo is more than just a way to get through college. Rather, it’s a way of life, and they come together as a team to accomplish their lofty goals.

“I’m a steer wrestler and team roper,” says Fox. “I wasn’t very consistent at the beginning of the year, sometimes making short rounds, but not placing.”

“Then this spring, it came together,” he adds. “Patience and practicing brought it together, I suppose. I just kept practicing and did the best I could.”

Going into his first CNFR, Fox says that he’s had the chance to participate at national events at other levels, including the Indian Finals.

Rodeo also runs deep in his blood.

“My grandparents rodeoed, and my parents rodeoed,” Fox comments. “I was pretty much born to compete in this sport.”

“I just got a new horse, and right now, I’m debating whether to ride him or not. He’s younger and not as experienced, but he’s faster. I’ll work that out as we practice,” he says.

In the month leading up to CNFR, Fox returned home to Montana, where he splits his time between Browning and Harlem. He aspires to earn an ag business degree and then return to his family’s ranch, with the goal of running his own cattle one day.

“I’m glad I came to Casper College to rodeo,” he says, “and I’m looking forward to competing at CNFR.”

Bott, who helped bring the team to CNFR, adds that he also struggled early in the season but turned things around by the time spring rodeos came around.

“I won the college rodeo in Laramie, and that was a big deal,” he says. “I’m a freshman this year, and this is my first CNFR.”

“I’m just excited to compete at CNFR,” Bott continues. “That was my goal when I came to Casper this season, and I’m working toward winning a national championship.”

With a win as his goal, the Casper College ag business major also knows it won’t be an easy task to pull off.

“I’ve put in a lot of practice and a lot of work. I’ll continue practicing all the way up to CNFR,” he says. “I think we have a really strong team, and we should have a good showing at CNFR.”

Attending CNFR

CNFR kicks off on June 12 with Bulls, Broncs and Breakaways.

Slack starts on June 13, and evening performances begin June 14.  Nightly evening performances will be held at 7 p.m. at the Casper Events Center June 14-18, with the finals held on June 18.

The event expects over 400 cowboys and cowgirls from over 100 universities and colleges and the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s (NIRA)11 regions.

“CNFR is the best of the best in college rodeo,” NIRA says.

Fox encourages Wyomingites to “Come down, support your team and have a good time.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Lviestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – After a grueling year, the Casper College Thunderbirds Rodeo Team will send 9 members of their team to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) to compete with the top student athletes from around the nation.

“This year’s team is an amazing team,” says Jhett Johnson, assistant coach for the rodeo team. “They are so diversified.”

At this year’s CNFR, Casper College will be represented by Lacey Camp, Dantan Bertsch, Dylan Wahlert, Justin Harrell, Jake Fulton, Neil Williams, Drew Antone, Cawl Braithwaite and Joseph Barquin.

Thunderbirds rodeo

The Casper College Men’s Rodeo Team will be competing at the CNFR after taking the top spot in the Central Rocky Mountain Region at the end of the season, and Lacey Camp, who ended at second in the region’s breakaway roping, earned the spot to compete on the women’s side of the event.

Individually, Casper College’s men also performed well, with Dantan Bertsch winning the bareback riding and Cawl Braithwaite winning the bull riding.

Justin Harrell took reserve champion in saddle bronc, and Drew Antone also took reserve in the bull riding. In the steer wrestling event, Jake Fulton came out as reserve champion. Dylan Wahlert took the third place title in bareback riding, and Neil Williams ended third in bull riding. Williams was also the reserve champion all-around cowboy.

“The timed event guys are really strong,” Johnson says. “The rough stock guys are amazingly strong. They held steady and dominated all season this year.”

“We have had a really good team,” he continues. “They get along really well, and they are full of talent.”

Inside the season

Rodeo Coach Tom Parker notes that the men’s rodeo team started out strong, took a dip and then recovered.

“When we look at what we got done, these young men performed to the very best of their ability, and they performed to the top of anyone’s expectations,” he says. “It has been an opportunity and an honor for me to coach this group.”

The season started at Central Wyoming College, where the Thunderbirds finished fourth. They continued to Chadron State where they placed second.

“Right in the middle, we just took a nosedive, and I thought we were in for a long season,” Parker continues, mentioning that the team took sixth at the Sheridan College rodeo and fifth at Lamar’s event. “We went to Laramie County Community College, picked it back up and won.”

In the spring, the men’s rodeo team took second at the first rodeo of 2015 in Gillette, following the performance with a second place finish at Eastern Wyoming College, a first place finish at Colorado State University and a second place title at Casper’s rodeo.

At the final rodeo of the season, the University of Wyoming, the team took the top spot, and Parker comments, “When we got all done, we probably had as good a rodeo at the University of Wyoming as we have had for many years.”

With a total of 4,125 points, the team handily took the top spot in the region, earning them the rights to compete at CNFR.

“This team has some outstanding talent that was very apparent,” Parker says. “This was a very rewarding year. We started out strong and continued to improve throughout the entire rodeo season.”

Student leadership

As CNFR prepares to head to Casper for its year-end event, student directors of the event are also preparing themselves for a busy week.

“I’m excited about the buzz that surrounds CNFR,” Lane Santos-Karney, student at California Polytechnic State University, comments. “Everyone who shows up has worked so hard to get there – both in the arena and in school to stay on top of their studies. It is a huge reward to have the chance to compete for a national title.”

Santos-Karney jumped into a student director position this year and is currently serving as president. He notes that serving in the capacity of National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association President has given him the chance to meet a number of students and create lasting memories.

Shelbie Weeder, student vice president of Oklahoma Panhandle State University, adds, “This is a very cool opportunity for me. As student directors, we oversee everything that happens during the event. We make sure people are where they are supposed to be and that all our bases are covered.”

Rodeo benefits

But CNFR is more than just competing for these students.

Weeder comments, “I’m really excited for CNFR this year. The atmosphere is really great.”

She further notes that CNFR brings the best of college rodeo together for a week of competition and celebration.

“It is really fun to hang out with a group of people our age who are so determined to accomplish their goals,” Weeder adds. “CNFR is a fantastic experience.”

“Rodeo has such a heritage,” Lane notes. “There are a lot of kids who won’t go on to professionally rodeo, but college rodeo gives those who are going to school a chance to take that route.”

While they have the opportunity to compete in an event that matters to them culturally, Lane notes that it also allows them to pursue a career pathway.

“College rodeo is one of the greatest organizations,” Lane continues. “We see so many generations and so many great memories from college rodeo. It brings a lot of memories and creates a bond that ties us all together.”

Learn more about CNFR or purchase tickets for the event at

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper –
Only in its second year, the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame (WCHF) brought hundreds of cowboy fans to the Casper Event Center on Sept. 27, where 53 deserving men and women from across the Cowboy State were honored for their lifetime endeavors.

WCHF co-founder Scotty Ratliff told the huge crowd gathered that, after hearing about another state’s similar enterprise, he asked, “How do you get into the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame?”

After learning Wyoming didn’t have one, he and friends set out to build it from the bottom up – both figuratively and literally. One of the WCHF’s missions is to find a brick and mortar home, and Sept. 27, silent and live auctions worked toward that goal.

“There’s a local committee in every county,” Ratliff said. “It can grow, but it’s going to take everybody in this room.”

Cowboys – some of these tough-as-nails men and women no longer alive – were honored with special plaques and a handshake from U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, who proclaimed their hard work and values made the Cowboy State what it is today.

“This is the Cowboy State,” Enzi said. “We have to recognize the cowboy. But Wyoming is the only state with its own code of ethics – and it’s the ‘Cowboy Code of Ethics.’ This is a tremendous heritage.”

Those 90 and older received Lifetime Achievement awards, and throughout the event, special guests Chuck Larson, emcee, and Pinedale’s Andy and Jim Nelson, of Cow Country radio infamy, auctioned off tack, jewelry and other special donations.

For many, the recognition brought proud and tearful moments, along with lots of hugs and handshakes. 

For a full list of 2015 Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees, visit

Joy Ufford is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Douglas – The Wyoming High School Rodeo Association will be hosting the Wyoming State Finals Rodeo in Douglas next week, June 10-13.

For the high school sport, the women’s all-around is currently being led by Quincy Segelke, followed by Jacey Thompson and Karson Bradley. Tiegen Finnerty and Owen Wahlert are second and third in the men’s all-around, respectively, and Brady Thurston currently holds the men’s number one spot.

“I think that the top five have an excellent chance to go on,” Thurston notes of the competition going into the finals.

High school competitors from around the state have been working all season to earn their place in the upcoming Douglas rodeo.

“It’s laid back,” Thurston comments of the rivalry between association members. “We are all pretty good friends.”

Jumping into rodeo

Thurston has been competing in rodeo for about 14 years. He began after realizing it was something he really wanted to do.

“I decided to rodeo competitively, and I’m really glad I made the choice,” he remarks.

His season has included saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down events.

Of all his events, he favors saddle bronc riding the most.

“It’s a thrill to be able to ride, to have everything come together and to be able to make it eight seconds and get a score,” he explains.

As of June 1, Thurston’s saddle bronc score is 1,464.36, and his all-around score sits at 3,715.51.

Over the season, he has worked hard to participate in events every weekend to build up his all-around score.

“I’ve tried to be consistent in every event,” he remarks.

Besides taking the all-around next week, Thurston says, “I am going to try to win bronc riding and steer wrestling.”

Headed to the contest

When Thurston competes, he loads up a trailer, taking three different horses along for the ride.

“One of them is my bulldogging horse, and his name is Lucky. I also have a calf roping horse named Moses, and a team roping horse named Luda,” he explains.

He has owned his calf roping and team roping horses for four years.

“I’ve had my bulldogging horse for about nine years,” he adds.

This will be the last high school finals rodeo for Thurston and his horses, since he recently graduated.

Next steps

Next, Thurston notes, “I am going to go to college at Central Wyoming College in Riverton.”

He plans on rodeoing at the college, saying, “I’m going to see where that takes me.”

Thurston also has other rodeo plans, including another set of finals this summer.

“I’m going to the National Little Britches Finals at the end of July,” he explains.

As he looks forward to all of his upcoming events, Thurston expresses gratitude to the love and support he has received.

“I would really like to thank my parents and my family for helping me out,” he says.

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..