Several miles north of the Colorado state line sits the small town of Laramie. In this town, a university offers the only public four-year education in the state, as well as the only D1 athletics program. Thanks to some of the former Cowboys listed below (and others who are not), the University of Wyoming is creeping its way into the national conversation of college sports. As an alumna of the institution, it’s my civic duty to say mostly positive things about my fellow alumnus, and, of course, pick people who I think are pretty impactful. I would like to note before I jump in that no former Cowgirls are listed, and that makes me sad. I’ll do more digging to make a Mt. Rushmore of Wyoming Cowgirls, and it might just be four women I truly think are wonderful.
Larry Nance Jr.
Nance came to the University of Wyoming in 2011 to play men’s basketball. His contributions were most noticeable in the 2014-2015 season, when he lead the Cowboys to a Mountain West Conference Tournament championship and an opportunity to go to the Dance. Unfortunately, they lost in round one to UNI (many of us are still not over that), but that didn’t take too much away from how special it was to go to the NCAA tournament. Wyoming Basketball has since been so-so, but I have faith that they’re on the up-and-up and will go to the dance again.
These days Larry puts in work for the Cleveland Cavaliers (better luck in the 2018-2019 season). He played briefly for the Los Angeles Lakers, who have not been super relevant in the last few years, so that Cleveland move was probably for the best. It helps that he’s a native Ohioan, and his father also played for the Cavaliers (you may have heard of him: Slam Dunk Contest Champion of 1984, Larry Nance Sr.).
Finley competed as a discus thrower in track and field at the University of Kansas before bringing his talents to the great University of Wyoming. He’s an Olympian and a medal winner of the IAAF World Championships. Track and field seems to get forgotten unless it’s a summer Olympics year, which is unfortunate since many track and field athletes are very accomplished. Finley is one of those folks, as he was the first American man since 1999 to even medal in discus at the IAAF World Championships in 2017. Hopefully he continues to be successful and competes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Another notable Cowboy Basketball alum, Ratliff was inducted to the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005 and holds the Cowboy record for most blocked shots (425). He’s had stints playing for the Pistons, 76ers, Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Timberwolves, Spurs, Bobcats, and finished out his 16 year career with the Lakers. His success in the NBA can definitely be attributed to his shot blocking finesse, where he trails 19 other great players.
Fun fact for those of you who may not have had the pleasure of visiting the University of Wyoming Arena Auditorium, there’s an image of Ratliff blocking the GOAT Michael Jordan. Under the concourse there are tunnels to the locker rooms and media rooms. If you walk the length, you’ll pass this great mural. When you decide to take a road trip through Wyoming, stop by the athletics facilities to see some neat stuff.
Just a young man from a small town in California trying to make it big. Oh wait, this might have just happened. Before Allen, people gave me a gazey look when I said Wyoming. Now if people see me wearing a shirt with the steamboat on it, they immediately have something to say about Josh Allen. So thank you, Josh Allen, for giving folks a reason to say something good about the University of Wyoming football program. Allen’s college football career was successful in that it brought national attention to a small football program that had seen better seasons. With Allen as QB and Craig Bohl as HBC, the team saw some drastic improvement over the last few years. The face of this success may be Josh Allen, but Craig Bohl is the man bringing talent onto the field that brings Wyoming Football into the bigger conversation.
This summer you can find young Allen training for the 2018 season for the Buffalo Bills. The state of Wyoming has recently shifted from supporting the close-in-proximity Denver Broncos to supporting the thousands of miles away Buffalo Bills. Buffalo has basically become Laramie north with Josh Allen and DE Eddie Yarbrough. Basically, we’re all ready for the Bills to be the 2019 Champions because of course they will be with two great Wyoming alumnus.