McMillan Ranked Third In Nation In All-Around
College National Finals Rodeo kicks off Monday in Casper, and once again the team from Northwest College will be well-represented.
Caleb McMillan, Bubba Boots, Matt Williams, Calvin Shaffer and Dawson Cvancara have all qualified for nationals, scheduled for June 11-17. Trapper head coach Del Nose said his team, ranked 11th in the nation, is poised to make an impact.
“We’re looking pretty sharp, actually,” Nose said. “The guys are rodeoing now, they’re practicing, competing in pro rodeos. I saw where Bubba [Boots] placed in bulldogging in Utah last week, so that’s a good sign. Caleb [McMillan]’s been riding bulls in Washington state, and placing. Talked to Dawson [Cvancara], he’s been roping every day in North Dakota.”
“They’re dedicated,” the coach said. “Once they start winning, they really like it.”
McMillan finished the season ranked third in the men’s all-around, while Boots finished ranked 17th. McMillan is ranked first in bull riding and 24th in bronc riding; Boots is ranked 17th in steer wrestling. Boots and Williams will compete in team roping, Shaffer in saddle bronc and Cvancara in team roping.
“We got a good start this year,” Nose said. “We won a few rodeos, we placed second in most of them. I think the lowest we got was fourth. We were pretty happy with it.”
Nose said this year’s team stood out because of their dedication and a desire to better themselves in all aspects of their events.
“I never had to coax these guys to come out to practice. They were always ready when I got to the barn — even an hour earlier sometimes,” Nose said. “They had the cattle in, they had the horses warmed up. That made it pretty special for me.”
McMillan has three events heading into the finals, and Nose believes that, if things go according to plan, the sophomore from Soap Lake, Washington, has a shot at the all-around title. Boots, who finished as runner-up in the all-around at last year’s finals, is competing in two events and also has a shot in the all-around.
“It’s going to be a nice little run for those guys [McMillan and Boots] if they can make it work,” Nose said. “We’ve got one more year out of both of them, so we’re pretty excited about that, too.”
Nose said he’s had a good recruiting season and with the talent he has returning and the athletes coming in, NWC will be in excellent shape for the next couple of years — as long as the team stays focused.
“The sophomores will get it figured out, and the freshman coming in are pretty strong,” he said. “The word is confidence. The more practice we get, the more confident they get. With that confidence comes a winning attitude, and that makes them hard to beat.”
The CNFR is a week-long event, and one might think maintaining a competitive edge with that much down time might be difficult. But Nose said the competitors have plenty to keep them busy, and his athletes’ focus is the least of his worries.
“I don’t have to worry about the competitive edge with the guys,” Nose explained. “They’ve got it. They stay sharp, they’re riding their horses. I just never have to worry about them. We have a good, respectful team, and that’s why I say they’re pretty special.”
As successful as a season it was for the Trappers, the spring ended on a somber note, with the loss of freshman bull rider Kolten Moss. The 18-year-old Laramie native was killed in a May 8 car accident following the regular season. Nose said the tragedy has only strengthened an already tight bond between teammates. Though Moss had decided against returning to NWC for his sophomore year, Nose was excited for what lay ahead for the young man.
“It still gives me goosebumps; I just can’t believe it happened,” Nose said.
When Moss turned in his rodeo vest and shirt, he told his coach he’d enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“... I was so excited for him,” Nose said. “I knew he was going to do good there, because he’s a good kid. An hour later, he’s gone.”
“No one will ever know what happened,” he added. “But it’s too bad it had to happen.”
At next week’s finals, Nose said he’ll be surrounded by athletes who are the embodiment of character — something he takes pride in seeing exhibited by his team.
“I gotta be honest with you, all the kids that make the College Finals are in the same boat as my kids are,” Nose said. “They’re respectful, they respect each other, they respect the town. With that, they all got confidence, and they’re all winners, that’s how they got here. The cream rises to the top.”