Reiner quickly climbing ladder to bareback stardom

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SHERIDAN — In a sea of grizzled cowboys and decorated riders, Cole Reiner stood clean shaven, inexperienced and awestruck — but certainly not overwhelmed. Reiner competed in his first Sheridan WYO Rodeo Thursday night and a 79.5-point ride put the Buffalo native near the upper echelon, just outside of the money.

Reiner has only rodeoed atop rough stock for a couple years and found his niche as a bareback rider somewhat unconventionally.

Reiner roped with his father and brother for the majority of his life. Two Augusts ago, hanging out with some friends in Kaycee, Reiner wanted to give saddle bronc riding a go but had one issue — he couldn’t find a saddle.

So instead, Reiner strapped some rigging on a horse and soon found his new hobby in bareback riding.

But that’s all it was at the time, a hobby.

Reiner finished high school as a stout wrestler. He advanced to the state championship bout all four years, winning a pair of titles, and had his choice of colleges seeking his wrestling talents.

“I was either going to go East Coast or West Coast,” Reiner said. “I was going to go big city, maybe go to John Hopkins Memorial or Rutgers.”

Reiner was going to get out of his comfort zone and spread his wings in a big city far away from the friendly confines of Buffalo. He continued to dabble in bareback riding as he readied his body for collegiate wresting. In that time, Reiner made a couple trips up to Sheridan College to ride practice horses, and soon the newfound interest began to take time away from the wrestling mat.

After seeing Reiner practice multiple times, SC rodeo head coach Marc Gilkerson asked the senior in high school if he wanted to rodeo for the Generals.

“I didn’t know for sure at the time. I was kind of 50-50,” Reiner said. “And then I got on a few more horses and started rodeoing more and wrestling less and decided that’s what I wanted to do, and I’m glad I went to Sheridan.”

The news came as a shock to Cole Reiner’s father.

“It was kind of surprising because at one end he had tons of offers to go wrestle all over the country and he decided, ‘I think I’m going to college to ride bareback horses,’” Joe Reiner said. “Cole is one of those kids that always has to be the best. He just puts 150 percent into everything from wrestling — four-time state finalist, two-time state champion — to bareback. He’s put everything into it.”

The dedication produced results in Reiner’s freshman campaign. He helped the Generals win their second consecutive Central Rocky Mountain Region title and just missed making the short round at the College National Finals Rodeo.

“This past year was really cool,” Cole Reiner said. “I learned a lot. I started, came in really young and I really didn’t have much experience. I got to rodeo with Chance (Ames) and Hunter (Carlson) and Kyle (Bloomquist) and they all went to the CNFR the year before. I learned a lot from (Gilkerson) and the horses that were brought in. At the beginning of the year I was pretty rough, and at the end of the year I made the college finals.”

Reiner has since rodeoed all over the Rocky Mountain region and the Midwest this summer, eventually making his way to the Sheridan County Fairgrounds for the WYO Rodeo last week. For many years, the Reiner family made the short trip north for the WYO Rodeo to watch and enjoy the festivities.

The Reiners had one less ticket to purchase this time around as they watched one of their own compete in the first of many WYO Rodeos.

“It’s kind of neat to see him grow up and make it to this level and to compete at it is pretty amazing,” Joe Reiner said. “It just makes you proud.”

The capacity crowd, bright lights and award-winning stock didn’t get in the way of Reiner scoring an impressive ride that garnered him respect from many cowboys.

“I was really impressed with his ride at the WYO,” said Gilkerson, who had a front-row seat just behind the chutes. “The horse had some change-ups at the start there, and he rode her through that and when she lined out and she started bucking really nice, and Cole opened up and spurred her real nice.

“I was really tickled with him. Hopefully, he can stay healthy, come in this fall and be ready to keep winning.”

Winning has surrounded Reiner his entire life — from the wrestling mat to the rodeo arena — and all signs point to much more of the same as he continues down his newly-formed path.

By |July 17th, 2018|

About the Author:

Bud Denega joined The Sheridan Press in November 2017 as the primary sports reporter. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Wyoming. Prior to working in Sheridan, Bud spent time as a sports reporter for the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota, before being a sports reporter for the Laredo Morning Times in Laredo, Texas. Email Bud at: bud.denega@thesheridanpress.com

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