MPCC team roper Chandler Comfort heels a steer at the 2017 College National Finals Rodeo. Comfort finished the season fifth in the nation. (Photo courtesy of Dan Hubbell)
Mid-Plains Community College cowboy Chandler Comfort is fifth in the nation, following a week of competition in Casper, Wyo.
Comfort, of Gem, Kan., was the number one team roping heeler in the Great Plains Region heading into the College National Finals Rodeo on June 11.
He and his roping partner, Samantha Jorgenson, of Black Hills State University, stretched their steer out in 6.9 seconds during the first go-round of the CNFR.
Their time was 12.6 seconds in the next go-round, 6.7 seconds in the third go-round and 11.5 seconds in the short-go. It was enough to put them into the Top Five as the 2016-17 college rodeo season drew to a close.
"Chandler was a little disappointed in that he only roped one leg in the second round," said Garrett Nokes, MPCC timed event coach. "The only difference a two-leg catch would have made is that he would have ended up in fourth place instead of fifth. But, it's rodeo. Team roping was one of the toughest events, and Chandler really competed well for us."
Wesley Thorp and Cole Wheeler won the team roping at the CNFR for the second year in a row. Thorp, of Stephenville, Texas, is also a force to be reckoned with on the professional circuit.
Last year, he claimed the championship at the Bob Feist Invitational, the largest one day open roping in the country. He then won a go-round and placed seventh at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
"When you're up against that type of competition, it's important to keep your head," said Nokes. "Chandler did that, and I think it was a great experience for him. He's a freshman, so I'm looking forward to being back at nationals with him again next year."
MPCC steer wrestler Kris Rasmussen, of Riverdale, threw his steer in 5.0 seconds in the first go-round and won the third go-round with a time of 4.5 seconds. That put him 21st in the final standings.
Bareback rider Rowdy Moon, of Sargent, finished 13th in the nation after riding his broncs to scores of 74.5, 63.5 and 65.5 respectively. It wasn't enough to forward him to the short-go.
"The CNFR is a different animal all together," said Dustin Elliott, MPCC Rodeo Team rough stock coach. "The stock is better than we see all year. Rowdy got three horses covered but two shook him loose, and the scores reflected it. He was 13th, and they take 12 to the championship round. Nonetheless, it was a great season for a great kid."
The rest of MPCC's qualifiers: bull rider Garrett Wickett, of Norfolk, saddle bronc rider Lane Kennedy, of Orleans and team roping heeler Wyatt Killion, of Ainsworth, didn't place at the CNFR. Wickett ended the season 17th in the nation, Kennedy was 34th and Killion was 38th. Additionally, MPCC finished 25th in the men's team standings.
"Garrett and Lane drew really good animals," said Elliott. "Garrett's third bull he rode 5 seconds and started a great ride - just didn't finish. Had he, the score would have been pushing 90."
Moon graduated from MPCC in May and will transfer to Chadron State College to pursue a bachelor's degree. Kennedy and Wickett, however, will be back at MPCC in the fall to try for nationals one more time.
"They will have a year of maturity on them, and I look forward to better things next season," said Elliott.
All results from the CNFR can be found at http://www.collegerodeo.com/cnfr/cnfr-2017-results/.