SHERIDAN — The excitement in Marc Gilkerson’s voice said enough. The Sheridan College rodeo coach watched his men’s team score 710 points at the University of Wyoming rodeo over the weekend to win the rodeo and secure the Central Rocky Mountain Region title.
According to collegerodeo.com, it’s the first regional championship in Sheridan College rodeo history.
“I was just ecstatic,” Gilkerson said. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community. I’ve always said, you’ve got to recruit the right kids — kids that are willing to work. We wouldn’t have been able to get those types of kids without the backing from this community. It’s just, it’s awesome.”
Gilkerson pointed to his team’s consistency throughout the season as the catalyst to its success. In the 10 rodeos this season, SC finished either first or second in nine of them — first five times; second four times. They finished fifth at Central Wyoming’s rodeo.
The team won the final two rodeos of the season to solidify its spot atop the standings, including a week ago at Casper before the UW rodeo.
“Consistency was the key to it,” Gilkerson said. “I knew we’d get at least 350, 400 points every weekend. Other teams didn’t have that.
“They just did their job every weekend,” the coach added, alluding to his cowboys’ efforts. “I didn’t want to put any pressure on them; I just let them do it on their own. Then, at Casper, I just told them, ‘Let’s finish it guys, and then Laramie is just going to be fun.’”
Two birds. One stone.
The Generals had plenty of fun in Laramie and went ahead and took home the team title to eliminate any doubt of the team’s dominance.
Hunter Carlson took third at the UW rodeo with bareback rides of 78 and 77 points, which was enough to maintain his place at the top of the region standings and claim an individual regional title. He’s currently fourth in the nation in the event.
Chance Ames outshined his bareback riding teammate over the weekend with a huge 82-point ride in the short round to win the average. He finished right behind Carlson in the bareback regional standings, and Kyle Bloomquist rounded out a clean SC sweep in the event, taking third in the region.
Trig Clark, who just missed on qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo, put together rides of 76 points and 77 points at UW to finish the season on a high note.
Garret Uptain took second in the region in saddle bronc riding after a dominating weekend in Laramie. He won the long round with a 79-point ride, and drew a great horse for an 80-pointer in the short round to take the average.
Tayte Clark was bucked off in the short round, but a 76-point, second-place long round was enough to secure Clark a spot in the CNFR this summer.
Sam Thurston, Cameron Benbough and Trevor Clark all made the short round in saddle bronc, as well, and finished second, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the event.
“One of my main goals when I first got this job was to win the region,” Gilkerson said. “It took me eight years to do it, so it means a lot to me. I had a national champion, and now we’ve won the region. That just makes me really happy.”
The Sheridan College women had a strong finish to their season, as well. Despite a tough 10th-place finish at the UW rodeo, the Lady Generals finished fifth in the region standings.
LaTasha Weiferich and her horse A Streakin Easy were named the Central Rocky Mountain Reserve Champion barrel racers and qualified for the CNFR.
Gilkerson will watch a handful of his athletes compete at the CNFR in June, but the weekend was a pretty special one for the longtime SC coach. He also noted that the future is just as bright thanks to the hard work of this year’s team.
“This will definitely help us with recruiting,” the coach said. “We’ve already got the facility — (SC President) Dr. Paul Young getting us the indoor arena; that was huge. Two years after we got that, we won the region. Now, everybody’s going to ask, ‘Who’s No. 1?’ It just makes us even more appealing.”
The CNFR begins June 11 at the Casper Events Center.