Casper College Athletes Compete in College National Finals Rodeo
Competition concludes on Saturday
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Jun 17, 2023
James Perrin, a student from Casper College, competes in saddle bronc riding at the College National Finals Rodeo. (Courtesy photo from Casper College/Edwin Gonzalez)
By Shen Wu Tan
Special to the Wyoming Truth
The College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper marks both a beginning and an ending for some of the seven Casper College athletes who participated this week after the team placed second in the Central Rocky Mountain Region during the regular season.
James Perrin, a saddle bronc rider from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Canada who just finished his first year at Casper College, competed for the first time at the rodeo. He is the only freshman male to qualify for the event from the Central Rocky Mountain Region.
“It’s definitely pretty cool to make your first here at College [National Finals Rodeo],” said Perrin, 19, a saddle bronc rider like his grandfather, father and brother before him. “I guess it’s a pretty big accomplishment…. That was one of my goals to set when I came down, was to make it.”
A rodeo competitor since age 10, Perrin hopes to pursue rodeo professionally. “There are a lot of opportunities down here to become a good bronc rider,” he said about leaving Canada to join Casper College’s rodeo team.
Unlike Perrin, Trae Smith is a veteran of the college national finals. This will be the team roping heeler’s fourth and final run at the rodeo as he recently graduated from Casper College with a psychology degree. He’s also competing in the same rodeo as his grandpa – just 57 years later.
“It’s always so much fun to be able to compete here,” Smith, 23, told the Wyoming Truth. “The atmosphere is insane here…. It’s very electric.”
Smith described his final college rodeo competition as a bittersweet experience.
“I’m excited for what’s to come as far as professional rodeo life,” Smith said. “College rodeo is definitely a stepping stone, in getting your fundamentals down at that level…[I’m] sad to leave, but kind of ready for the next step.”
Smith began competing professionally at age 19. Now that he’s completed school, he plans to hit the professional rodeo circuit this summer. In the future, Smith hopes to launch a career as a rodeo coach and ranch on the side.
Five other athletes from Casper College also qualified for this year’s competition:
- Braden Brost, from Consul, Saskatchewan, Canada, is competing in team roping with Kolby Bradley from Big Piney. Weston Mills, from Gillette, is competing in team roping with Smith.
- Myles Carlson, from Evanston, placed first in the Central Rocky Mountain Region in bareback riding this year.
- Casper resident Carson Johnson is a three-time qualifier for the college rodeo final and former team roping champion in 2021 along with his older brother, Kellan. Johnson is competing with team roping header and University of Wyoming student Bodie Mattson. Both Carson and Mattson placed first in the event in the Central Rocky Mountain Region this year.
“These guys are all very good at what they do, and it’s no surprise to me that they are here,” Jhett Johnson, head rodeo coach for Casper College, said about the seven athletes. “We’re a very well-rounded team.”
Athletes who make it to Saturday’s finals could not only win money and other prizes, but also secure a “feather in their hat for possibly picking up sponsors,” Johnson noted.
The athletes had three chances to score points and advance in the standings. Only the top 12 contestants in each event and the top 12 teams in the team roping event qualify for Saturday’s finals.
Reflecting about his future rodeo career, Smith said, “There’s no other life like it, being able to go rodeo out with your friends and to get to live out your dream for a job.”