(Editor’s note: Montana Western press release)
DILLON – The University of Montana Western Rodeo team is back from their winter sabbatical and is saddling up for the 2019 spring season. The Bulldogs will open the spring season in Bozeman, Mont. on April, 11-14 for two rodeos hosted by Montana State.
“We’re excited to get back out there and get back to competing,” head Coach Kody Lahaye said. “It’s been a long winter.”
With five rodeos left in the season, time is short and the stakes are high as the cowboys and cowgirls fight for a trip to Casper, Wyo. and the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
“I tell the kids the season’s only half over,” Lahaye said. “There are still 800 points available in each event. Even if you had a bad fall, there are still a lot of chances in the spring.”
Currently the Bulldog women’s team is second in the Big Sky Region. They sit 1,301 points behind Montana State, but just 157 points ahead of Montana. With the Griz breathing down their neck the Bulldogs will need a strong spring to stave off the charging Griz and maintain their hold on the second spot.
“Our women’s team is going to have to stay strong with (Montana) coming on strong in the fall,” Lahaye said. “So we need a good start in Bozeman to keep pushing forward.”
Currently fourth in the goat tying, Lorrie Ann Smith will help lead the charge for the Bulldog women this spring.
“I’ve been working really hard this spring on my mental game,” Smith said. “This is my senior year, I’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain, so that’s really what I’m focusing on. I made it to Casper once and really want to get back there. So that’s the game plan, be consistent and give it everything I’ve got every run.”
The senior finished second in the top-ten rodeo last weekend.
“I’m ecstatic to get back out there,” Smith said, “I had a personal best run there, great way to start the season and hope to show that again in Bozeman.”
While the women control their own destiny. The men have an uphill climb as they try to catch MSU. Currently Montana Western is sitting third, just 150 points behind the cowboys from Bozeman.
“The men have to step it up,” Lahaye said. “We had a good fall sticking with MSU, but they always have the potential to go off in the spring. We will have to get going right off the bat and keep up with those guys.”
Kelly Murnion is leading the region in the bull riding and will spearhead the Bulldogs run as they try to get back into the second spot in the region.
“I’m pretty excited, it will be good to get back out there and compete,” Murnion said. “Go out and have fun, and do my job. Ride every bull, don’t really think about it too much.”
Murnion will have an additional challenge in the rough stock this spring. As he will have to compete with his off hand, as his dominant wrist heals.
“I had surgery on my wrist so I haven’t been on a bull in a while,” Murnion said. “Starting to heal my wrist up, but I’m gonna switch hands so I think it will go good. I want to get back to Casper and hopefully do a little better and get to the short round.”