BOZEMAN — The road to Casper, Wyoming, for the College National Finals Rodeo is less than a week away, which will feature 15 different Montana State Bobcats, including Big Sky Region men’s all-around champion Jaret Whitman.
There’s not much that intimidates the 6-foot cowboy from Montana State -- not even a 500-pound steer.
It’s a fearlessness that was embedded into him at a young age by his father Jaren Whitman.
“My dad professionally steer-wrestled for close to 25 years," said Jaret Whitman, a Montana State senior. "I started rodeo in diapers in the backseat with my mother following my dad around the rodeos, so I’ve been around it my whole life. I started entering rodeos in sixth or fifth grade.”
Now hundreds of rodeos later, the senior capped off his final regular season with the Bobcats by bringing home the Big Sky Region’s highest honors: the men’s all-around.
“Coming into school, the all-around has always been a goal of mine," Whitman said. "The all-around is the biggest and the best. You’re the best cowboy that’s entered, so that’s always been a goal of mine.”
But the journey doesn’t stop there. Up next is college rodeo’s biggest stage: the CNFR, where Whitman will wear the Bobcat vest one last time.
“I think the goal is a national title, and I think it’s easily obtainable," Whitman said. "We have a lot of great guys. We have a lot of great opportunities if we keep our heads on straight and don’t make any major mistakes and stay on the better end of drawing our cattle and our rough stock. There’s a good chance we could put another banner back in (Brickbreeden Fieldhouse).”
In addition to steer wrestling, Whitman will also be competing in team roping with fab freshman Teegan Leno who has been his roping partner the entire season.
“I got probably the best support group in the world," Whitman said. "Growing up, I didn’t grow up on a ranch. I didn’t grow up with an arena, but I’ve had outstanding families in the area and different people help me out along the way. There’s so many people I can’t say enough about or thank them enough. They’ll forever be in my debt, but I’ve had an outstanding support group.”
The CNFR is a weeklong event that kicks off June 13 in Casper, Wyoming.