Caleb McMillan is starting to be the Wilt Chamberlain of the Northwest College rodeo team. He is scoring most of his team’s points.
It was that way again for the Trappers last weekend at Miles Community College. The Trappers chased Montana State to the wire, but finished second in the team race and with two rodeos to go in the Big Sky Region, that’s where Northwest resides in the standings.
“We can catch them,” proclaimed McMillan, the sophomore from Soap Lake, Wash., who seems on the verge of collecting all the buckles being awarded this season.
Montana State scored 495 points to Northwest’s 450 at Miles, so the Trappers did not close the gap.
McMillan dominated the all-around, scoring 80 points more than second-place. He was fourth in saddle bronc, first in bull riding, and fifth in tie-down roping.
“He’s amazing,” said Northwest coach Del Nose. “He’s had a great year. He’s a cowboy.”
McMillan comes from a family rodeo background, so he began experimenting with different events as a youngster and he is showing signs of steady improvement.
“He’s been in it all his life,” Nose said. “He’s been at it since he was a little boy. He’s got it all together right now.”
McMillan was the only competitor on the six teams entered who covered both of his bulls and his 157 points put him far ahead of second.
“The bull riding was the best,” he said. “I got a really good bull. I had never seen it before, but these bulls were bucking.”
If a good rider stays atop a good bull for eight seconds he is going to get a good score.
“Bull riding has been my best event this year,” McMillan said. “It was calf roping last year.”
McMillan could win prizes in four events, but he is not taking anything for granted.
“I hope it keeps up,” he said.
Although McMillan led the way, several other Trappers contributed key points. Will Griffel and Colten Fisher were second in team roping, Jake Davis was third in bull riding, Bubba Boots third in steer wrestling, Calvin Shaffer was sixth in saddle bronc.
The Northwest women competed shorthanded. Braily Newman took eighth in goat tying.
Last year, the Trappers were second going into the winter break and won almost every rodeo in the spring to finish first. This year they were also second, but Montana State has remained out of reach during the spring half of the season. McMillan is not surrendering the title, though.
“There’s still two rodeos left,” he said. “There’s a lot of rodeo left.”
Nose isn’t as optimistic as McMillan, but since two teams qualify for the College Finals Rodeo from the region.
“Two teams go,” he said. “That’s pretty good. We’ll probably end up in second place. Bozeman has to fall down.”