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.