LARAMIE – When Beau Clark took over as coach of the University of Wyoming rodeo team, he thought there were some talented men and women on the roster he inherited.

Clark added more talent before the start of the season, but still wasn’t sure how both squads would do during the fall and spring rodeos.

It is safe to say they did well.

The Cowboys and Cowgirls qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo, which starts today in Casper at the Casper Events Center. It is the first time since 2006 that both UW’s men and women qualified as a team in the same year.

“The kids just worked hard and competed well. I’m real proud of them,” Clark said.

Not only did both teams qualify for the CNFR, they did so in impressive fashion.

The men dominated the Central Rocky Mountain Region and finished with 5,021.66 points. Second-place Casper College had 3,813.33 points. The Cowboys finished the regular season ranked No. 12 in the nation.

The Cowgirls won the final three spring rodeos to claim the CRMR title with 3,030 points. Eastern Wyoming Community College was second with 2,594.83 points.

What is interesting about the men’s team is that of the six participants in the CNFR, all are in timed events. UW has no representatives in roughstock events.

Both teams, however, have participants who are good in multiple events.

Junior Seth Peterson of Minot, N.D., and freshman Caden Camp of Belgrade, Mont., finished first and second, respectively, in the CRMR all-around standings. Junior Ty Everson of Helena, Montana, was fourth, and junior Jase Staudt of Nathrop, Colorado, tied for seventh.

Peterson is making his CNFR debut, and will compete in tie-down roping and steer wrestling. Camp, also a newbie at the CNFR, will be in team roping and steer wrestling. Everson will make his third CNFR appearance, and it will be Staudt’s first.

UW also boasts the women’s CRMR all-around champion in senior Teisha Coffield of Yuma, Colorado. She will compete in breakaway roping and goat tying. Coffield will be at her third CNFR. She qualified as a freshman at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, and also at Colorado State-Pueblo.

Coffield transferred to UW for her senior season, and enters the CNFR as the national leader in breakaway roping.

UW will have six men and four women compete in Casper.

It has been quite a turnaround for the entire program, and the athletes give a lot of credit to their first-year coach.

“He’s definitely made our practices a lot more intense and purpose-driven,” Peterson said. “We’re getting a lot more out of our practices than we did before. He’s brought the strengths out in all of us.

“He’s also made us do extra work, like with workouts and doing better in school. He’s had a positive impact on our lives in many ways.”

Coffield said Clark worked to allow both teams access to UW’s sports medicine facilities.

“He’s opened doors for us that provided us with a lot of opportunities,” she said.

But there’s more.

“He’s great at motivating people,” Coffield added. “He will send out inspirational messages to us throughout the week. We’re all on the same page and working for the same goal. That has made a huge difference.”

Clark likes the chances of his men’s and women’s teams doing some good things at the CNFR. But he has tried not to put added pressure on them based on their regular-season success.

“We’re taking athletes who are extremely competitive,” Clark said.

“All year we talked to the kids about not worrying about who wins first or who wins what, but just doing their job and being in the moment. I just want them to be at their best this week.

“Not all of our kids have competed (at the CNFR), but many of them have competed at a high level in other sports in their careers. That maturity should help them.”

That message seems to have resonated with Clark’s athletes.

“I feel confident in myself, and no matter where we go and what we do, if I do my job the way I want to do it I will be successful no matter what,” Peterson said.

Coffield has CNFR experience, and hopes the big arena and crowds at the Casper Events Center give her teammates a boost and motivation.

“It is just another rodeo, although it is easy to overthink it because it is nationals,” she said. “You have to qualify, and not everyone gets to go. For me, I just need to ride my horses to the best of my ability and be confident in myself.

“My advice for the others is to take it in. It is such a cool experience and privilege to be there. The first time you get to run in a performance is so surreal. It is so loud and there are so many fans. A lot haven’t competed in that kind of setting. I hope they can embrace it, because it may be the only time they get it.”

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