Jun 7, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorLady R00;Rustler Devin Nicholls will continue to compete in the sport at Tarleton State (Texas) University next year.
Traci Hinman, Jacalyn Walker, Lacey Tech and Devin Nicholls carried Central Wyoming College women's rodeo team to a regional championship in April.
Now the four are focusing on a bigger stage Sunday through Saturday: The College National Finals Rodeo at the Casper Events Center.
Each event has three preliminary rounds before the top 12 in advance to the finals on Saturday night.
"I know that they have high hopes," CWC rodeo coach Rick Smith said. "It's all going to come down to the performance in the arena."
The four scored 3,063.33 points on their path to the Central Rocky Mountain regional title.
The college rodeo regular season is made up of five rodeos in the spring and five more in the fall. Chadron State finished second in the regional race at 2,83.33 points, and Gillette College placed third with 2,325.00 points.
The other regions in the United States are the Big Sky, Central Plains, Grand Canyon, Northwest, Ozark, Rocky Mountain, Southern, Southwest and West Coast.
"It's not going to matter much about what we have done before," Smith said. "I know that they are going to work hard. They will be prepared. I know they have the talent."
The four CWC cowgirls all participated in the 2011 CNFR as well. The Rustlers finished seventh in the team standings last year.
"We know this year how everything is set up," Nicholls said. "In your first year at the finals you are pretty nervous."
Montana State University won the 2011 women's team title, and Sam Houston State finished in second place at the CNFR.
"This is the strongest women's team that we have ever had from top to bottom," Smith said. "They all can win individual championships."
Walker placed fourth in goat tying last year at the CNFR.
She was the only CWC cowgirl to advance to the finals.
Hinman has been a captain for the Rustlers the past four years. She won the Central Rocky Mountain 2012 regional title in goat tying.
Tech finished fourth. Walker and Hayden Segelke from Northeastern tied for fifth. Nicholls was eighth in the regional standings.
"Lacey is the fastest girl I have ever seen in goat tying," Smith said.
Nicholls finished eighth in breakaway roping.
She is the only CWC cowgirl to be in both goat tying and breakaway roping.
"Devin just has to be aggressive," Smith said. "She has a great horse."
Nicholls to Texas
Nicholls has decided to attend Tarleton State University in Stephensville, Texas, next year to continue her rodeo career.
Nicholls signed her national letter of intent last week.
"Tarleton has always been a place where we have encouraged kids to go," Smith said. "We like their coaches. They have a great program. They have lots of opportunities for the kids."
Tarleton State has one of the top rodeo programs in the United States.
"I'm pretty excited that I get to go to Tarleton and see what a different region is like," Nicholls said. "I got a good deal that I couldn't pass up."
Smith said Tarleton State will be a good place for Nicholls to continue her breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping career.
"She is a great roper," Smith said. "I don't think that she will have any problem. The weather is beautiful in that part of the country in the winter. She will get a lot of opportunities to rope in practice. That is one of the real benefits of Tarleton."
Tarleton State rodeo coach Mark Eakin said Nicholls will fit in right away at the powerhouse rodeo program.
"We are really happy to have Devin," Eakin said. "I think that she will be a good mix with our team. I haven't got to see here compete a whole lot, but I will get to see her compete next week. I think that she will be a huge asset to the program."
Tarleton State had 113 members on the men's and women's rodeo team.
"That was the largest rodeo team in the nation," Eakin said.
The Tarleton women's team finished second in the Southwest region to qualify for the CNFR. Texas Tech placed first.
Tarleton was third in the team standings at the 2011 CNFR.
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