CASPER, Wyo. — Anyone looking for University of Idaho cowgirl Janey Reeves this week should probably check the Casper Events Center arena first. Chances are Reeves will be at the timed events end of the arena, either nodding her head after she backs into the box or tearing down the runway before making a barrel racing run.
Reeves, a grad student from Melba, Idaho, is competing in four events — barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping — at this year’s College National Finals Rodeo. It’s also the fifth consecutive year in which she has ended her college rodeo season in Casper.
“This week is like a culmination of all these years and all my hard work,” Reeves said. “This is it for me with college rodeo. So I’m giving myself more of a chance this year.”
With it being her last year, Reeves figured she might as well go out with a bang. She won the Northwest Region in goat tying and breakaway roping, finished third in barrel racing and was eighth in team roping. But those are just numbers. Thankfully, Reeves has a story to go with each event.
Reeves spent her first two years of college learning under the tutelage of former national champ Lynn Smith at Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona. She qualified for the CNFR both years but never made the short go-round.
“I’ve had a few goats get up over the years,” Reeves explained.
So far this season the goats have stayed tied for the most part. Reeves not only won the region but enters the CNFR as the No. 1 goat tyer in the country.
“We don’t have a ton of goat tyers in our region so the key was just being consistent,” she said. “I just needed to keep my goats tied down and have a smooth run every time.”
Reeves credits Smith for a lot of her success in the event.
“I really enjoyed my first two years (at Cochise College) with Lynn because she brings you to that next level,” Reeves said. “You learn so much from her that it just becomes muscle memory.
“I don’t tie exactly like Lynn’s fundamental way — I might stuff a goat rather than gather it. She just adjusted to the things I could do better and that made me so much faster.”
Up until this year Reeves had never made the college finals in barrel racing. But up until this year she had never competed on Sizzle, a horse that she and her mother, Margaret, raised.
“She’s young and she really worked this year,” Reeves said of Sizzle. “And I think that was the stepping stone to what got me here in the barrels.”
The only time Reeves has made the short go at the CNFR was her freshman year when she finished sixth in breakaway.
Sunday, she put herself in position to change that with a 2 1/2-second run to tie for sixth in the first go-round.
It was Reeves’ second successful college breakaway run. She entered the final regional rodeo 11th in the breakaway standings, but won the rodeo with a 2.9-second run to vault all the way to the No. 1 spot.
“That was exciting because I had never won the breakaway,” Reeves said.
Reeves didn’t expect to be here in four events, but that changed when Idaho finished second in the regional team standings. Roping with younger sister Julia from Boise State, the two finished eighth in the region. This week, however, she’ll be roping with GW Clark from Treasure Valley Community College.
“We’ve been able to practice a few times since the season ended,” Reeves said.
In an interesting twist, Julia will rope with Treasure Valley’s Keaton Phillips, who was Clark’s roping partner during the season.
Monday, Reeves will have her first go-rounds in team roping, barrel racing and goat tying. Tuesday’s slack will see her competing in all four events as well as her third go in breakaway in that night’s performance. Then its team roping on Wednesday night, barrel racing on Thursday night and goat tying on Friday.
All of which leaves Reeves little time to check out the Casper area she is all too familiar with.
“I feel like I know my way around Casper pretty well by now,” she said. “But this year I don’t think I’m going to have time to do anything but practice and rodeo.”
With her college rodeo career drawing to a close, and after helping resurrect the rodeo program at Idaho, Reeves is ready to take the next step. She’ll continue to rodeo in the Columbia River Circuit, but that won’t be her main focus.
“We own a feed lot in Idaho, so it was kind of tough for my mom to leave but she’s here watching us,” said Reeves, who is working on her master’s degree in Adult Organizational Learning and Leadership. “My undergrad was in ag business so eventually I want to take over the feed lot. My grandma and my mom are actually partners in the feed lot so I’m kind of next in line.”
First, though, Reeves has a rodeo to compete in.