Not even Del Nose saw this coming, his Northwest College Trapper men’s rodeo team becoming an instant juggernaut this fall.
The Trappers easily triumphed in their fifth straight rodeo to complete the first half of the 2018-19 season last weekend at Montana Western.
“I had no idea this was going to come together like this,” said the long-time head coach. “Wow.”
Northwest compiled 730 points to runner-up University of Montana’s 425.
That has been the story of the Big Sky Region season thus far, with Northwest on top of the standings with 3,522.5 points. Montana State is second with 2,338 points.
“We’re on a roll,” Nose said.
Rolling along just as impressively is Caleb McMillan, the sophomore from Soap Lake, Wash., who has been the team catalyst.
McMillan has won the all-around cowboy award in every rodeo and leads the region with 1,613 points, more than 800 ahead of second place.
“It’s been a really good fall,” McMillan said. “You go in with a plan and it’s been as good as I planned.
“You do so many [events], it is a good thing when they’re paying off,” he said. “Oh, man, it’s going good.”
McMillan really has been an all-around competitor as the season goes on hiatus until next spring.
He leads the Big Sky in tie-down roping, is second in bull riding, second as team roping header, fourth in saddle bronc and 15th in steer wrestling.
“Caleb’s strong in everything,” Nose said. “He’s pretty consistent.”
The men are dominating, but the women are improving.
The Lady Trappers are fifth in the standings that Montana State leads.
Last weekend, Braily Newman was second in breakaway roping in 7.1 seconds and Scout Yochum was ninth in goat tying.
“That’s been her highest finish,” Nose said of Newman. “Scout tried a new horse and got off closer to the tying.”
Newman said she thinks her breakaway roping is “starting to come together. For some reason we get to the short-go and can’t finish.”
This few-month break with intensive practice is going to help the team, she said.
“Basically, it’s bettering yourself,” Newman said. “You can go back to the basics.”
When the season resumes in the spring, the Trappers will have cowboys all over the individual leader boards.
In saddle bronc alone, Northwest has five ranked riders. Calvin Shaffer is first, Clancy Glenn third, McMillan fourth, Cody Weeks seventh and Logan Nunn 11th.
Similarly, Trappers are all over the ratings in bull riding with McMillan second, Justin Ketzenberg fourth, Keaton Martz fifth, Austin Herrerra seventh and Beau Smith 10th.
Bubba Boots, in seventh, trails McMillan in tie-down roping, is second as a team roping heeler, and is also 14th in steer wrestling.
“We got a good start and kept going,” Boots said of the team’s wildly successful early season. “It was pretty impressive.”
Danny Hillebrand jumped into 13th overall in steer wrestling with a third last weekend.
Will Griffel and Colten Fisher captured the crown last weekend and solidified their overall holds on first as roping headers and heelers.
“The team ropers helped a lot this week,” Nose said. “They made two classic runs.”
Dawson Cvancara is also 14th in the header standings and Cashe Davis is 14th in the heeler rankings.
As much as McMillan casts a shadow over the landscape, the Trappers are getting contributions from many others.
“This is 10 guys,” Nose said. “It’s really awesome.”