The assignment this time for the Northwest College rodeo team is not to stay aboard bucking horses and bulls for just eight seconds.
It is to ride high for more like eight months.
When it comes to predictions, long-time Trapper coach Del Nose is not playing it coy.
In a long season, with occasional months-long interruptions, with good fortune and no serious injuries, Nose believes his men’s team can win a national championship.
“We have a lot of guys coming back,” said bull rider Jake Davis. “There’s no reason to go for second.”
It is go-for-it-time for the Trappers, who can envision themselves as the last team standing at the College Finals Rodeo next June.
“I’m hoping for the sky,” Nose said. “The whole enchilada.”
Last year, it was the Big Sky Region for the Trappers, who captured six of their 10 rodeos in the split fall-spring season.
Returning almost all of the key athletes on the men’s team, adding fresh recruits, and buttressing the women’s team, Nose believes he just might be looking at a milestone season.
That season begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights at Stampede Park by hosting the rest of the region’s teams, all after hours of slack.
Although the Trappers seemed to run out of steam at the Finals last year following a regular-season Nose repeatedly referred to as “special,” this team shapes up as even stronger.
“Not just the Big Sky,” he said of the championship plan. “We’ve got another special team. We just want to get our team to the Finals. That’s the goal.”
Bubba Boots from Saint Anthony, Idaho was the biggest star last year, highly ranked in several events. He is back.
So are other top cowboys like Davis, Caleb McMillan, Levi Mydland, Orrin Ouska, Matt Williams, and Marc Dohrendorf.
Also, the Trapper roster features several Cody Nite Rodeo regulars who gained experience and stayed sharp by competing at Stampede Park.
Jake and Will Griffel and Colby Minert saw some success in the Nite Rodeo.
Katy Negarrd is a top returner on the women’s side and Fallon Pellican has showed well at Cody Nite Rodeo and Brooke Winward made some waves.
“I’m kind of excited about the girls,” Nose said.
His athletes are pumped because they know what was accomplished last year and the prospects for this season.
“We’ve got every event covered,” Ouska said of the Trapper men’s roster. “We will be stacked. We’re really excited to go.”
Bull rider Dohrendorf demonstrated that emotion.
“Yes, sir,” he said of the national title potential. “It’s going to be our year. That’s the attitude. We’re going to come in swinging.”
Nose even gained a late bonus recruit a couple of weeks ago.
Kyle Smith, the season-long Cody Nite Rodeo bareback champion, asked buddy Ouska if he could work out with the team at Trapper Arena. Instead, Nose asked if he wanted to go to school and join the team.
Smith had planned to work with his dad, who hauls cattle out of Big Timber, Mont.
Now, all of a sudden, he is a student in Powell.
“It’s going to be a good year,” Smith said.