There will be another Welsh on the back of a twirling bucking bull this weekend in the Wyoming High School State Rodeo Finals.
Bobby Welsh, a Gillette native, won the 2002 National High School Finals Rodeo bull riding championship before turning professional and making the National Finals Rodeo seven times. Now his son Colt Welsh, who just finished his freshman year of high school, is in the chute for his first season of high school rodeo.
“It used to get to me. It used to really get to me,” Colt said about the pressure he felt of having a champion bull rider as a father. “But these last couple of rodeos have been really nice, actually. It’s all just starting to come together finally.”
Bobby said he kept his eldest son out of fall competition this year as his own father did nearly 20 years ago because of his small stature. Colt still has earned enough points in the few rodeos he’s been in to sit in the No. 9 spot in the state bull riding points heading into the finals in Gillette, which started Thursday morning.
Now that Bobby is done riding bulls professionally, he trains bulls for amateur rodeos and works at a co-op driving. Colt said his father was the stock contractor for about half of the rodeos he has competed in. And Bobby is still very much involved in training up-and-coming bull riders in Wyoming as well.
“Not only has he helped me, he’s helped half the freshmen coming up and a lot of the bull riders actually,” Colt Welsh said as he glanced at the crowd of high school bull riders that will compete against him this weekend. “We’ve had schools. They’ve all stayed at our house once or twice, most of them.”
Colt’s older sister, Madison Wolff, who just graduated from high school in the Class of 2019 is in her last Wyoming High School State Rodeo Finals at Cam-plex. She’ll compete in barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying. She didn’t think she would ever get to compete in a rodeo with her younger brother.
“At first it was scary, but we’ve been watching our dad (rodeo) for years and I’m just happy that he found something that he really likes,” Wolff said of Colt.
Wolff earned a scholarship and will carry on her passion for rodeo next season at Ranger College in Texas.
“I didn’t really think we would ever rodeo together like this. I’m just excited. [Colt’s] doing so good,” Wolff said. “It’s really a family sport.”
The kids often travel with Sunny and Bobby Welch during summers when he was in the thick of pro rodeoing. Now the Welshes watch their children compete and Madison, Colt, Hayden (junior high) and Aftyn (second grade) have grown into a pure rodeo family. It’s almost seems natural.
“It means a lot to me because it’s all on their own passion and their own desire because they know they don’t have to do this,” Bobby said. “And to see them achieving and maintaining their goals and growing in it, it’s pretty special.
“We can teach all that we can, but they have to do it themselves. I can’t nod my head for Colt and Sunny can’t run the barrel pattern for Madi.”
The state finals continue with performances at 6 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday at Morningside Park, with the qualifying round grand entry starting at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.
For more information, visit wyhsra.org.