A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine posed me a question on Facebook: Which Wyoming high school mascot was my favorite? And, maybe even more importantly, which was my least favorite?

This friend was from Guernsey and briefly summarized the origin of the Guernsey-Sunrise Vikings: the (Sunrise) Miner + the  (Guernsey) Longhorn = the Viking. What once was a fairly neutral mascot for me quickly became one of my favorites.

I have done my fair share of research on Wyoming high school mascots, but somehow that story had passed me by. But it also made me start thinking about some of the state’s mascots and which ones I really liked — and which ones I didn’t.

So here’s a brief rundown of some of my favorites, and some of my least favorites, both past and present:

Best mascots: In short, I like originality. And I like schools that try to find something that’s both original AND reflects something unique about their community. There are plenty of those in Wyoming — the Big Piney Punchers, the Lingle Doggers, the Hanna/Sunrise Miners, the Midwest Oilers, among others.

Western heritage obviously has a pull in Wyoming, and I like to see schools playing that up: Newcastle Dogies, Glenrock Herders, Laramie Plainsmen, Kemmerer Rangers, Shoshoni/Pinedale/Medicine Bow Wranglers, Meeteetse/Rock River Longhorns, Ten Sleep Pioneers, Kaycee/University Prep Buckaroos and a ton of Broncs and Bison and Buffalo(e)s. I like most of these; some of them are a bit predictable and dopey, but I can’t hate them.

I love Oregon Trail references: Torrington Trailblazers, Fort Laramie Pioneers. I also love the courage it takes for Rawlins to maintain the Outlaws name.

One of my favorites from the closed-school division is the Dayton Elks. I should hate it, but I kind of like the flaunting of bad grammar. I also love the Elks’ Sheridan County neighbors, the Ranchester Rustlers. Of course, these two schools combined to make Tongue River… but more on that in a second.

The Carpenter Coyotes also comes off the tongue nice. I appreciate any school that will name itself after an animal most people in this state are willing to kill for a $2 bounty.

But I think my all-time favorite is the Farson Pronghorns. How in the world is Farson the only Wyoming high school, past or present, to pick the Pronghorn as its mascot? That is incredibly confusing to me. The fastest mammal in North America, about 90 percent of all of them in the world live in Wyoming, and only one high school picks that as the mascot? Not only that, but Farson is the only high school in the nation with Pronghorns as its mascot. Mad props to Farson for doing so; shame on everyone else for ignoring the obvious.

(By the way, the only other original-to-the-country mascot in Wyoming is the Lingle Doggers.)

Worst mascots: My friend tried to make the case for the Camels of Campbell County being the worst mascot in the state. I disagree; I love wordplay and, although not totally original, the Campbell County Camels does have a nice ring to it. I stay neutral to it. Not one of my favorites, but certainly not in the discussion of the worst.

My least favorites are the ones that you can see coming from a mile away, like the Buffalo Bison or the Hawk Springs Hawks.

More than that, though, I hate the common mascots that have nothing to do with the school itself. How many Panthers and Eagles and Bulldogs do we need? Unless an actual eagle made its nest in the tree out in front of the school, or an actual bulldog saved the school from burning down, or an actual panther ate an entire class of kindergartners back in the day, then you need to come up with something more original.

Which leads me to my least-favorite mascot in Wyoming: The Tongue River Eagles. How do you take two fantastic, original mascots like the Ranchester Rustlers and Dayton Elks, end up disposing them both and coming out with something so generic?

Clearly, this is nothing against the school or the fine folks of northern Sheridan County. The people there now had nothing to do with this choice, certainly made in the the post-World War II, post-Korea fervor of all-American patriotism. St. Stephens opened at about the same time and went with Eagles, and the Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp was also known as the Eagles. And we can’t forget the area at the base of the Big Horns IS great for eagle sightings….

But come on. Eagles is the most common nickname for high schools in the country, with more than 1,200 high schools claiming it. Rustlers and Elks were both so unique, so different, so cool, and Eagles is just so… just so… frustrating.

Come on. Who wouldn’t root for the Tongue River Elk Rustlers?

How about you? Your favorite? Your least favorite? Post it below and let’s have some fun, just be nice, as always.


14 Thoughts on “Mascots: Best and worst in Wyoming

  1. I loved being a Dogger in high school. It’s fun now to encounter people that don’t get it and explain it to them. Everyone loves it because it’s a western community that simply represents itself, which is what high school sports are supposed to do.

  2. great list Patrick- i dont know how NCHS came up with the Tigers. maybe back in the day schools wanted mean,ferocius animals to define them.
    if Gillette ever grows a pair to open another high school, the pronghorns would be a good mascot. There are plenty of good athletes for two high schools to compete at a high level in this town.

  3. Dahl Erickson on March 22, 2011 at 12:35 am said:

    Kudos to you patrick for taking on this topic. It’s all in good fun but somebody will jab you for it so good for you. In Star Valley the Braves mascot has to do with the fact that the American Indians used the area for their summer playground. They were also smarter than we are now because they left in the winter.

    But I did want to touch on unique mascots in our area. In the early 1900’s and into the 1930’s, the unofficial name for Star Valley was the Cheesemakers due to the numerous dairies and cheese production. However, from 1937-1948, this was the official designation because the owner of the largest cheese production plant ponied up some money and earned the “right” to name them officially. After the 1948 football season, the student council, citing that it was too expensive to print on uniforms and was not appropriate, changed it to Braves.

    I’ll be there isn’t another school in the country that was called the Cheesemakers, and a friend of mine and myself came up with a logo a few years ago and the shirts and hats have actually caught on a little bit.

    The interesting thing is that the kids today seem to like it for the “throwback” that it represents. The older generation that lived and attended school then still don’t like it and don’t miss it at all.

    Why cheese heads and the like haven’t caught on here, I’ll never know.

    For my two cents, I’ve always liked the Pronghorns as well, and I’ve always liked the name Outlaws for Rawlins. Hard to argue with Oilers for that matter, even the NFL made the mistake of getting rid of that. one.

    I’m interested to see what others might think on some of them as well.

  4. Ernie Over on March 22, 2011 at 6:48 am said:

    The St. Stephen’s choice of Eagles comes from the cultural traditions of the reservation tribes.

    Interesting exhibit at the new Fremont County Pioneer Museum in Lander depicts a 1900s era school room from the original Lander HIgh School… the school colors were then red and white. Not sure when they made to shift to green and white (and now black), but maybe it had something to do with nearby rival Riverton, whose colors were originally black and orange, but shifted to red and white because of the number of other schools using orange and black (Worland, Powell, Casper–all in Riverton’s league then). But what goes around comes around; the Central Wyoming College Rustlers now wear orange and black.

  5. Sisco Molina on March 23, 2011 at 12:06 am said:

    The Worland mascot, Warriors, has always seemed like one of the best to me. What athlete in high school wouldn’t want to be recognized as a warrior?

  6. Sisco said it well. The name, Warriors kind of gets to you. You’re in for a fight.

  7. Let me explain where Gillette got the idea to have the camel be their mascot. Back when they were constructing the first original high school(now twin spruce jr high) they were digging the basement and they found a fossilized ancient prehistoric camel. Then they decided it’d be cool to name the team after that. Very cool story, I ousted to think our mascot was stupid but now I think it’s a cool and unique mascot, and it connects with the towns history.

  8. a former camel on October 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm said:

    GO CAMELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  9. I don’t know if the camel bones story is true, seems more like a rural legend. Our college team is the Pronghorns, and while one can’t image them being particularly menacing, they certainly are fast. I believe there will be two high school in the future…can’t imagine what they will come up with for a mascot. The one team town unity is nice while it lasts. Go Camels.

  10. It also bears mentioning that there are two high schools and a college called Campbell County who also use the camels. Who knew? Gotta love Google.

  11. The college in Gillette its not called Campbell County Camels, it is the Gillette College Pronghorns.

  12. The college in Gillette is not called Campbell County Camels, it is the Gilluette College Pronghorns.

  13. Wesley Kempton on November 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm said:

    The next time a new high school is formed in Wyoming, be it in Casper or Gillette, I’d love to see “Frackers” be the nickname.

  14. Pingback: School colors and mascots: Eight alternatives for Wyoming’s newest high school | WHSFB HQ — The Wyoming high school football blog

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