Cowboys and cowgirls taking part in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Springfield, Ill., July 23-29, battled not only for national titles, but also to stay dry.Cowboys and cowgirls taking part in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Springfield, Ill., July 23-29, battled not only for national titles, but also to stay dry.
Cowboys and cowgirls taking part in the National High School Finals Rodeo in Springfield, Ill., July 23-29, battled not only for national titles, but also to stay dry.
A massive storm that passed through Springfield on Monday, just hours before the second of 13 performances, left arena conditions sloppy and sticky and one side of the timed-event fence laying in the mud. The wind and rain stopped just in time for officials to reset the fence and begin the second performance on time. Halfway through the week, conditions began to look up, with cooler temperatures, drier conditions and drier cowboys and cowgirls.
Playing host to the NHSFR for the second straight year, residents of Springfield again enthusiastically welcomed the athletes, not only with their attendance, but also with numerous welcome signs and banners hung throughout the town and local businesses.
Nearly 1,500 contestants from 39 states, four Canadian provinces and Australia competed vigorously throughout 13 performances packed into seven days. Each contestant competed twice with the top 20 advancing to the finals, held Sunday, July 29. Performances were held each day at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. This year was Australia’s first trip to the NHSFR to compete as a member of the NHSRA. Last year, they sent a team of contestants to the NHSFR to exhibition.
According to NHSRA officials, total attendance was estimated at 120,000. This number includes rodeo performance spectators as well as those attending the Western Mall Trade Show and other activities offered on the grounds. Officials say this estimated attendance is much more accurate than last year’s count due to better methods of tracking attendance.
While not atop livestock, the contestants stayed busy each night with dances, seminars and volleyball tournaments. This year, Kansas ousted Wisconsin in the final match to claim the volleyball championship title. A concert featuring Sawyer Brown kicked off the festivities on Sunday, July 22, drawing an estimated crowd of 2,100. On Wednesday, kids shined their boots and shed their spurs for a cowboy prom. New to the NHSFR, Heel-O-Matic, the official roping machine of the United States Team Roping Championships, sponsored the "Heel-O-Matic Scholarship Challenge" shelling out $7,500 in scholarships to winning participants.
The All-Around Cowboy, Taylor White, 17, Richfield, Utah, rode in the saddle bronc and bull riding to blow away reserve champion Justin Foltyn, El Campo, Texas, by more than 200 points. White finished third in the average in the bull riding and fourth in the saddle bronc.
This was a return visit to Springfield for White, but his first national title. The Bee Hive State cowboy competed in the 2000 NHSFR and was leading the bronc riding entering the short go.
"I was doing all right going into the short-go," White said. "I had a real good horse in the short-go but I missed him out and it dropped me down to 11th. That’s all right, though. It was a fun time."
The personable Richfield High School senior is no stranger to the winner’s circle. White was also named the Utah Reserve Champion in the saddle bronc and the bull riding and he competes in numerous rodeo circuits in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
White, son of Max and Danielle White, made quite a haul in this particular winners’ circle, taking home a Featherlite trailer for one year, a saddle, buckle, $6,900 in scholarships from Wrangler and Ariat, a print from Western Horseman and various other prizes. The scholarships will be put to good use as White plans to attend college and continue rodeoing after taking two years off to go on a religious mission.
White was quick to credit his father and grandfather with his success.
"They’ve done a lot for me. They’ve built me an arena and bought me bucking bulls," White said. Another role model would have to be Lyle Sankey. I’ve been to a lot of his schools and know him real well. He’s helped me quite a bit with my riding."
White said he appreciated Springfield’s support of the rodeo and the effort that the NHSRA put forth to entertain the competitors. Although next year’s event will not be held in Springfield, White will be a returning competitor in 2002. When asked for his plans for next year, the cowboy modestly stated, "Just to do the same thing again, only this time, maybe to win the bulls and the broncs!"
Sadie Myers, 17, Winnemucca, Nev., is not only a cowgirl in the arena, but also at home. When first contacted by Quarter Horse News, she was busy branding cattle in the Nevada mountains, proof that she has what it takes to bear the title of NHSFR All-Around Cowgirl.
Also demonstrating her skills in the rodeo arena, Myers won the average in the breakaway roping, split eighth in the girls cutting and competed in the pole bending at the NHSFR. While this was Myers’ third trip to the NHSFR, it was her first national title.
Myers rode Docs Boo Boo, out of Doc Barton and Whoo Doo Taboo, to capture the champion breakaway title with 8.73 seconds on three runs.
"I was real nervous on my first go, but once I roped that first one, I knew what I had to do," the Lowry High School senior said.
Myers roped the night after the big storm in the first-go but said the mud and the muck didn’t bother the 16-year-old mare.
"It was still pretty sticky," Myers said. "My horse couldn’t really stop the way he usually does, but it didn’t affect us like it did the barrel racers."
Myers’ cutting horse, Fairlea Tough Darlin, by Tough Remedy and out of Dolly’s Darling, could’ve made this trip with her eyes closed. Not only did the 12-year-old mare carry Myers to another eighth-place in the cutting at the NHSFR last year, she has also made the trip to the NHSFR with several other contestants in years past.
After a nice run in the first-go, Myers said she was not as pleased with her second run.
"I couldn’t really get any cattle cut the way I needed to show what my horse can do," she said.
While Myers knew she had a chance to capture the all-around title, she tried not to dwell on it, and to concentrate on her individual performances instead.
"I had been looking at the standings all week but they changed so much," Myers said. "You would go from first to second to 11th, just like that. It just made me nervous so after Thursday I quit watching the standings. I knew it would be close."
She said her mother, Arlene, is her role model, stating that while her mother has been through a lot, she has always been there for her and her sister, Annie.
Myers hopes to rodeo at college while studying equine medicine.
"I want to fix horse problems," she said. "I like horses and I’m much more of a horse person than a people person. I want to help them."
Jed Headley returned to Pasco, Wash., with the title of All-Around Rookie Cowboy with a total of 430 points. Brandon Dufurrena, Fallon, Nev., finished second just 30 points behind Headley.
Bailey Gow, Roseburg, Ore., secured the All-Around Rookie Cowgirl title just over Kim Motley, Drexel, Mo.
The $500 Hard Luck Award was presented to two unfortunate competitors during the awards ceremony Sunday afternoon. The recipient of the girl’s award was Shayla Smith, Nogal, N.M., a competitor in the girl’s cutting competition. Shayla was taken to the hospital Saturday, July 28, after she collided with a horse while trying to retrieve a lost cowboy hat during the grand entry. Shayla attempted to compete in the short-go of the cutting on Sunday after working with the Orthopedic Center of the Rockies, but was too sore to finish the run. She received a standing ovation on her way out of the arena.
The Hard Luck Cowboy Award went to Tyler Pearson, Louisville, Miss., a steer wrestler whose horse died Monday, July 23, just one day after check-in. Pearson’s father took the horse home and buried him and returned to Springfield to watch his courageous son compete on a borrowed horse.
The AQHA Girl’s Horse-of-the-Year award went to Jae Bar Ryan, a 16-year-old gelding out of Jae Bar Donna and Leo Flyo, owned by Heather Wiedel, Hebron, Neb. Wiedel rode the gelding to capture the Champion Pole Bending and the Reserve Champion All-Around Cowgirl titles.
Pee Wee Sanbar, a 16-year-old gelding out of Pee Wee San and Bar Leo Anna owned by Ty Trammel, Tularosa, N.M., received the AQHA Boy’s Horse-of-the-Year award. Ty rode "Sanbar" to win the team roping championship along with his partner James Gillilland.
Utah claims state title again
Utah, the Bee Hive State, took top honors for the second consecutive year at the NHSFR with 4748.09 points. Utah led Texas by more than 400 points, nearly twice the lead over the Lone Star State as last year. Utah’s top five contenders and their total points included: 2) Texas, 4340.95; 3) Kansas, 3251.66; 4) Arizona, 2771.66; 5) Nevada, 2711.66.
Average event winners
Clayton Penrod, Genola, Utah, got the champion state off to a good start by turning in a 147 in the boy’s cutting to claim the first national title for his home state. Penrod finished with 440 points after three runs to beat Kegan Miller, Saint Anthony, Idaho, by six points.
Ashley Smith, Hailey, Idaho, also totaled 440 points overall in the girls cutting to claim her event title. She competed strongly in the finals with a 146-point run that placed her third in the short-go and assured her place at the top of the average standings, four points above New Smyrna Beach, Fla., cutter Nikki Sokol.
After 27 years without a NHSFR Queen Contest Champion, Texas has now claimed back-to-back queen crowns. Joanna Blackwell, Center, Texas, edged out Jackie Munson of Illinois for the title.
Justin Foltyn, El Campo, Texas, walked away with the bareback riding national title and the Reserve Champion All-Around Cowboy title. Foltyn scored a solid 72 points in the final round and finished with 216 points on three rounds. He beat out William Lowe, Gardner, Kan., by just three points.
Heather Wiedel, Hebron, Neb., had an extraordinary week at the NHSFR. Wiedel turned in the top time in pole bending in the short-round and claimed the national title with a three-run average time of 61.801 seconds to top Marcy Cooper, Raymond, Miss. Wiedel also finished second in the running for the All-Around Cowgirl title and her horse was named AQHA Horse of the Year. Wiedel actually competes as a member of the Iowa High School Rodeo Association.
Hummelstown, Pa., cowboy D.J. Smith’s 9.641-second run in the final round was just enough for him to claim the national title in the calf roping. Smith finished with a total of 29.609 seconds on three calves to edge Dusty Forre, Newman Grove, Neb., by less than a second for the win.
Buster Holland, Sublette, Kan., had a second-place time of 4.201 seconds, good enough for the cowboy to take home the national title in the steer wrestling. Holland posted a time of 12.94 seconds on three head to win the championship over Cade Woodruff, Montgomery, Ala.
Deanna Jo Smith, DeWitt, Neb., topped defending champion Stacey Watland, Poulsbo, Wash., in the goat tying. Smith finished fourth in the round, one spot ahead of Watland, and finished with a three-round time of 27.308 seconds. Smith also rodeos in Iowa.
Jarrett Monroe, Browning, Mont., scored 72 points on his final ride in saddle bronc riding to edge Sam Kelts, Millarville, Alberta, Canada, by five points for the national title. Monroe finished with 214 points on three rides.
Ty Trammell and James Gillilland, Tularosa, N.M., teamed to rope three steers in 23.578 seconds to claim the team roping title topping Cee Cee Tryan, Helena, Mont., and Samuel Ribeiro, Dillon, Mont. The team of Trammell and Gillilland finished third in the final round with a time of 7.68 seconds.
After finishing second in the barrel racing a year ago, Jackie Dannelly, Enterprise, Utah, and Paradise Elite returned to Springfield ready for a victory. She and the 15-year-old gelding affectionately called "Tobey," won the final round with a run of 17.014 seconds and claimed the national title with an average time of 53.076 seconds edging past Jamie Jarvis, Spanish Fork, Utah.
Matt Bohon, Cole Camp, Mo., won the bull riding national title after a 74-point ride in the final round that boosted his average score to 213 on three bulls. He beat fellow Missouri cowboy David Klump of Deerfield by two points.
The 53rd Annual NHSFR was sponsored by such organizations as the National Cutting Horse Association, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, the United States Team Roping Championships and the Women’s Pro Rodeo Association. Other supporters include Purina Mills, Inc., Cabela’s, Gist Silversmiths, Ariat, Carhartt and Circle Y, along with many others.
For the next two years, the NHSFR will be held in Farmington, N.M.