June 29, 2017
Lincoln, Neb. — The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Reed Kraeger earned a reserve championship at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, in June. Billed as the "Rose Bowl of Rodeo," the CNFR is hosted by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. Student athletes qualify for this national competition through competition in one of 11 regions across the U.S.
Kraeger qualified to compete in the CNFR by winning steer wrestling in the Great Plains Region, which comprises Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Each region sends their top three contestants in each event as well as the top two teams in each region. Kraeger was one of 46 contestants in steer wrestling this year.
In the first round, Kraeger turfed his steer in 7.1 seconds.
"It was good to get the first one down, but wasn't good enough to place," Kraeger said. In the second round, things improved, as he threw his steer in 4.7 seconds, placing 6th in the round. The third round found him a bit off the pace again with a time of 6.5.
Having three steers down, penalty free, left Kraeger 7th in the aggregate, which qualified him for the championship round.
"Knowing I had some time to make up on the leaders if I was going to have a chance at a National Championship, I needed to be fast," Kraeger said.
And fast, he was, turfing his short round steer in 3.9 seconds and taking the lead. As the rest of the field took their turns, Kraeger maintained his lead right up to the very last steer wrestler, Denver Berry of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and son of six-time world champion steer wrestler Ote Berry. Berry matched Kraeger's time. Having been faster on his first three steers, Berry’s total time was faster than Kraeger's leaving Kraeger with the reserve championship and a tie for the round win.
"It's a nice way to end my collegiate career," said Kraeger who graduated with a degree in agricultural education and will teach at Elwood Community High School in the fall. "I'd have liked to finish in first, but second isn't too bad, and it'll motivate me to continue to get better as I pursue professional rodeo in the summers, when not teaching."Jamie Bauman
University of Nebraska Rodeo Association