Gillette College takes a veteran rodeo team into Casper on Sunday for the College National Finals Rodeo with a national championship in mind.
The Pronghorn men's team is one of the best teams Gillette College coach Will LaDuke's ever fielded.
"I really think our men's team is a top 5 contender, maybe better," LaDuke said.
Roper Dane Kissack of Spearfish, S.D., is a four-time CNFR qualifier. The South Dakota cowboy was the regional runner-up in tie-down roping and third in all-around points.
His best finish at Casper was third place in calf roping in 2011. He will work two events in his last college rodeo, competing in tie-down roping. He'll also team with Clint Buringa of Lamar Community College in team roping.
"Both Casey Breuer and myself put aside our professional careers this year so we could get this team back to the College National Finals Rodeo," Kissack said. "We've got a great team and I think we'll do just fine."
Two-time Central Rocky Mountain Region bareback champion Breuer, of Mandan, N.D., scored over 1,000 points this season despite missing two rodeos with a fractured wrist. He's on top of his game and ready to put it on the line in his final college rodeo.
He's joined in the rough stock lineup by two seasoned riders. Travis Nelson of Philip, S.D., finished third in the saddle bronc standings this year. He missed two rodeos with a broken collar bone.
Bareback rider Devan Reilly of Sheridan was a nice little pick up from Casper College. The Thunderbird transfer gave the Pronghorns a big one-two punch in barebacks this season.
Donnie Scantling of Buffalo makes his first appearance at the CNFR. Scantling will compete with Tucker White of Lamar CC in team roping.
Jordan Thurston-Miller of Lance Creek is a four-time CNFR qualifier and leads a savvy Pronghorn women's team. Thurston-Miller was the first individual national champion in Gillette College history in 2010 when she won a title in goat tying.
The Central Rocky Mountain Region runner-up will compete in goat tying one more time.
Megan Belus of Buffalo will compete in breakaway roping while Kristi Steffes of Vale, S.D., was the Central Rocky Mountain runner-up in barrel racing in her first college season. Steffes makes her first trip to the CNFR in barrels with former Gillette High School Rodeo Club goat tier Emily Faber of Rozet also makes her first trip to Casper.
Performances begin at 7 p.m. each night, starting Tuesday and matinees begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Pronghorns will have six performing on Thursday night.