It’s time to go.
Three-time National High School Finals Rodeo qualifier Cassidy Kruse of Gillette has some work to do to when the Gillette High School Rodeo Club kicks off its spring schedule next week in Laramie.
Kruse resumes her final high school season tied for sixth in the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association’s barrel racing standings.
Her horse, J.J., won’t be the only one pinning his ears back and getting after it this spring. The Campbell County High School senior also is ready to let it fly.
“My horse is feeling great. I’ve been doing good at the NRCA rodeos in Rapid City (S.D.), so I’m excited to start my season off,” said Kruse, who has won five Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association barrel races over the winter.
“I always have a strong spring. I’m going to make a comeback and get back to nationals.”
High school rodeo is all about consistency and scoring every weekend. Kruse just needs to settle in and catch some momentum.
“The first barrel is the key to the whole run. Once the first barrel is nailed, it’s pretty much go from there,” said Kruse, who finished fourth in the nation as a sophomore and 15th last year as a junior at the NHSFR. “I put J.J. in a position where he needs to be and he knows what to do.”
Kruse was the top Wyoming barrel racer at the NHSFR in Gillette in 2011, placing fourth. Last year in Rock Springs, she won the second-go with the top barrel run with 17.061 seconds, but tipped a barrel in the short-go.
“I want to get back to back to nationals and finish what I went to do the previous times,” she said.
Madison Wilkerson of Jackson leads the state’s barrel standings with 45 points. But it’s a close race, with eight spring rodeos left to determine the four cowgirls who will represent Wyoming at the national finals.
Others in the state standings at this point include:
Callie Robinson of Moorcroft, fourth in barrel racing
Rheanna Gail, Farson, tied at sixth in barrels
Randee Erb, Gillette, tied at fifth in pole bending and 15th in barrels
Lexi Hamm, Rozet, tied at 13th in goat tying
Baillie Matthews, Rozet, tied at 15th in goat tying
Amelia Thrush, Gillette, 13th in team roping
Outlook for the cowboys
Justin Kissack of Gillette, who leads the state in bareback riding, has worked hard at the Gillette College rough stock practices this winter. Kissack and Jeff Zdziarski of Sheridan, who trails Kissack by 11 points, are locked in another battle for the state title.
“The college guys give me a lot of pointers when I practice with them. If they see something really wrong, they help me fix it,” said Kissack, who goes into the spring with 49 points. “Nobody rides the same, so I’m finding my own style. My goal is to win state and go back to nationals.”
Kissack competed in his first NHSFR last summer. He has that experience riding with him in his final high school season.
“The thing I learned from nationals is that if you stub your toe once, you’re done,” said Kissack, who was bucked off in the second round. “I was sitting pretty good after the first round and screwed everything up.”
Kissack has committed to rodeo at Gillette College next fall. He also will do some steer wrestling and team roping this spring to prepare for the next level.
“I’m hoping for some all-around points, scratch ’em anyway you can,” he said.
Kade Greer of Gillette (40 points) goes into the spring as the state’s top steer wrestler with a slim three-point lead over Casey Sellars of Buffalo and just seven points over teammate Gage Greer.
Ty Bertrand of Gillette also has been steady in bull riding. He sits second, but needs to find consistency if he’s going to chase down leader Bryce Burnell of Arvada.
Gillette cowboy Tyrell Fisk also is finally healthy and ready to get back on. He will ride both bulls and barebacks this spring.
“With high school bull riding, its more about just getting a score and trying to get it done, rather than a big number,” Fisk said. “My goal is to ride everything I can in both bulls and barebacks and get to the national rodeo.”
Other Gillette High School Rodeo Club members in the standings include:
Tayler Tarver, Gillette sixth in tie-down roping
Lynden Nelson, Moorcroft, 14th in steer wrestling, 23rd in tie-down roping, 28th in team roping with Callie Robinson, Moorcroft
Trase Johnson, Gillette, seventh in team roping
Spring Wyoming high school rodeo schedule
April 13-14: Laramie
April 20-21: Sweetwater County, Rock Springs
April 27-28: Sublette County, Big Piney
May 4-5: Newcastle
May 11-12: Gillette
May 18-19: Casper
May 25: Buffalo
May 26-27: Sheridan
June 5-9: State finals, Douglas