It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been pretty good for CWU ropers Jordan Tye and Trey Recanzone.

Central Washington University’s two representatives at the College National Finals Rodeo have fared well in the opening performances in Casper, Wyo., as Tye has completed his initial three rounds in tie-down roping and awaits the third round in team roping with his heeler, Recanzone.

Both ropers qualified for the CNFR after a solid regional regular season which ended in April. Now among the best collegiate ropers in the nation, the duo has not only shown they belong, but they’re in fact among the ones to beat, although it is difficult getting either of them to admit it.

“These are the best college ropers in the nation here, to compete with them is good enough,” Recanzone said. “There’s no really specific team we’re going against. We’re just challenging ourselves and we want to come out of this on Saturday as national champions.”

The team’s first round steer stopped the clock in 7.6 seconds, not a blistering run, but solid enough to tie for seventh in the round and keep them within the leaders (fellow Northwest region cowboys Calgary Smith and Cole White from Walla Walla and Blue Mountain community colleges) who roped a 5.7-second steer.

“Trey did an outstanding job of heeling and finishing the run,” Tye said.

Their second steer on Tuesday morning went left toward the wall in the small, indoor arena.

“It came just a little harder left,” Tye said. “This arena, it’s a little bit smaller, it’s not super wide. If the steer goes left the fence plays a factor. But my horse is doing a really good job and Trey is getting both legs.”

The team stopped the clock in 6.5 seconds, fourth in the round, and sit fourth in the two-head average with a 14.1, less than a second behind the leaders out of Central Arizona College, who have already run their third steer with a 5.9-second run.

“Oh yeah, we feel great, to get two down clean? Oh yeah,” Recanzone said. “If we can get another one down we’ll be sitting good going into Saturday.”

To make Saturday night’s short round, the team needs to be in the top 12 of the CNFR three-head average standings. If the duo gets a clean run in Friday’s performance, Saturday should be a reality.

“When we draw up on Friday, we’ll have a really good idea on where we need to be,” Tye said of strategy. “We’ll do what we can do with the steer we can get. Trey, he’s been doing outstanding.”

TIE-DOWN ROPING

Tye’s been pretty darn good in tie-down roping as well. Coming in as the nation’s top-ranked tie-down roper, Tye could easily succumb to some pressure to perform, but hasn’t and instead put together three decent runs that got progressively better as the performances continued.

His first-round calf was a runner and Tye stopped the clock in 13 seconds flat. Nothing flashy, but a clean run to keep the goal of the short go a reality.

Tuesday morning’s second round for Tye was noticeably better, despite a difficult flank to get the calf on the arena floor, but 10.7 seconds later (12th in the round) Tye had two good runs to put him in the top 10 on two.

Tuesday night’s third round helped Tye’s cause even better, as a 10.4-second calf will do that.

“Tonight, I didn’t have the best calf but I made it work, the calf kicked, so that took a little time,” he said Tuesday night. “I try and just react to the run. I knew she wasn’t a great calf going in. When I flanked her, she was kicking already. It could’ve been better, but it worked out.”

His 34.1-second aggregate on three is a near guarantee he’ll be back for the short round as he’s second in the average with a few more third-round performances to go.

“The calf roping could’ve been a little better, but it wasn’t bad, I got ‘em all down,” he said. “I’d like to say I am confident for Saturday. Anything can happen with this many head. Anything’s possible. I never like to count on anything until it’s set in stone, but I like my chances of making it back.”

This is Tye’s third year at the CNFR, but first as a Wildcat. The Oregon roper spent his first two collegiate years at Blue Mountain where he placed 23rd and 15th in tie-down roping and 14th and 15th in team roping in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s always kind of nerve wracking, you always want to do good.” Tye admitted. “But being here a few times, I’m feeling good about making it to Saturday. I’ve got my three down (in tie-down). I’ve done all I can do.”

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