Jun 10, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorRiley Krassin is making a return trip to the College National Finals Rodeo this week at the Casper Events Center.
Krassin was selected from Casper College rodeo coach Tom Parker to compete against the other top steer wrestlers on the college level.
Krassin finished sixth in the nation at the 2011 CNFR.
On the high school level, Krassin was a top cowboy before attending college. He graduated from Lander Valley High School in 2010.
"It wasn't a hard decision at all to put Riley on the team," said Parker earlier this week. "Riley has been one of those guys that has been a mainstay on the team. When you needded him to step up, he got the job done."
Parker believes the experience from the 2011 CNFR will be a huge plus for Krassin.
"It's not one of those brand new things for Riley," Parker said. "He knows what to expect. If he draws right, then he will do fine."
The CNFR starts on Sunday with the first performance of the week-long rodeo. After going three times, the top 12 advance to the finals set for Saturday night.
Krassin finished eighth in the Central Rocky Mountain region scoring 295 points.
The rodeo regular season is made up of five rodeos in the spring and five more in the fall.
Krassin qualified for the CNFR when Casper College won the Central Rocky Mountain Region. The Thunderbirds scored 4,310.00 points. Gillette College finished second 4,106.66 points. The University of Wyoming was third (3,835 points).
The top two teams automatic qualify for the CNFR.
"Riley didn't draw good all year," Parker said. "He kept hanging in there. He kept chipping away at them. It ended up that he was in the top 5 percent of the region."
CWC's Stetson Jorgensen and Miles Spickelmer from Chadron State deadlocked for first in steer wrestling at 425 points.
"Our region in the steer wrestling was pretty tough this year," Parker said. "We had some new guys come in. We had some returning guys that didn't have as good as year as they had a year ago."
Kelby Bond from Northeastern Junior College was third with 370 points.
Wyoming's Thomas Smith placed fourth at 340 points.
"Stetson did a really nice job the last couple of rodeos," Parker said. "The region was tough. The points were so spread out. He picked things up when he needed to do so he can be at the finals."
Last year, the Thunderbirds finished seventh in the nation in the standings.
This year, Casper College is counting on reserve all-around champion in the CRMR Zach Phillips to score several points in bareback and saddle bronc riding.
"We can go compete with anybody," Parker said.
"We have as strong as team this year as we did last year. If we draw right, we can be right in the hunt of things."
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