Sixty-six young cowboys and cowgirls gathered to compete in the Junior High State Finals Rodeo last week in the East Pavilion at Cam-plex. Five athletes from Gillette and one from Wright qualified for the Junior High National Rodeo next month in Des Moines, Iowa.

Athletes who finished in the top-4 in the season standings qualified for nationals. Nine rodeos counted toward the season standings, including the state finals.

  • Rickie Rourke qualified in barrel racing, girls goat-tying and breakaway. Rourke finished in third place in barrel racing with 71 points, third in girls goat-tying with 67 points and third place in breakaway with 40 points.
  • Jace Rourke qualified in two events. He finished second in tie-down calf roping with 71 points and won boys goat-tying with 75 points.
  • Tyson Schmelzle was the state champion bareback steer rider with 90 points.
  • Denton Mackey qualified in the boys breakaway with 52 points.
  • Ava Reno qualified in ribbon-roping with partner Jaxon Farella with 80 points.
  • One athlete from Wright, Caitlin Moore, also qualified for nationals in four events. Moore won barrel racing with 74 points, also won pole bending with 70 points and was second in girls goat-tying with 75 points and second in breakaway with 58 points.

Glade Parker named all-around cowboy

Glade Parker, 14, was named the all-around cowboy of the year at the state finals. Parker, of Laramie, won breakaway with 142 points and qualified for nationals with 76 all-around points. Parker also qualified in boys goat-tying with 75 points, ribbon-roping with 67 points and team roping with 43 points on the season.

“It feels really good,” Parker said. “I’ve been working really hard all my life and this year it’s really paid off I feel like.”

After last year’s season was canceled because of COVID-19, Parker said it was a relief to get through his final season of junior high.

“Last year I made it to nationals but they didn’t have it,” Parker said. “So I’m just excited to go.”

Hadley Thompson of Yoder was named the all-around cowgirl of the year. She qualified in five events, including pole bending (46 points), barrel racing (53 points), girls goat-tying (90 points), girls breakaway (86 points) and team roping (46 points).

The Junior High National Rodeo will be June 20-26 in Iowa.

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