The best high school rodeo athletes in the state gathered for the state finals in Douglas over the weekend. Thirteen local student-athletes secured their spots at nationals while four more qualified as alternates.
Athletes who finished in the top 4 at state qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska, from July 18-24.
Three Gillette athletes won state championships during the short go for their individual events. Kolton Miller (trap shooting), Keyton Hayden (boys cutting) and Maddie Eskew (pole bending) all won their events while Rozet’s Coy Thar won tie-down calf roping.
Stratton Kohr (tie-down calf roping) and Jordan Morman (barrel racing) of Gillette while Chance Sorenson of Arvada (steer wrestling) and Cody Boller of Weston (boys cutting) placed second in their events.
Two more local athletes finished third: Gillette’s Raelee Caldwell in goat tying and Rozet’s Ashlyn Goven in both pole bending and goat tying.
Four athletes from Gillette qualified for the NHSFR by placing fourth in their events. They are Joseph Hayden in boys cutting, Rozlyn Herren in goat tying, Peityn Manor in light rifle and Morman in pole bending.
Four more athletes finished in fifth place to qualify them as alternates for the NHSFR. The alternates are Tryce Jolovich in boys cutting, Grady Edwards in bareback riding, Kennedy Sheehan of Rozet in goat tying and Miller in tie-down calf roping.
Ten local athletes also won a go-round during the high school state finals.
First-go winners are Joseph Hayden in tie-down calf roping with a time of 12.19 seconds, Sheehan in goat tying with a time of 6.91, Boller in boys cutting with a score of 72 and Eskew in pole bending with a time of 20.37.
Six more won their second-go events. Goven won barrels with a time of 17.239, Keyton Hayden won boys cutting with a score of 73, Sorenson won steer wrestling in 5.32, Eskew won pole bending for a second straight day with a time of 20.299, Colt Welsh won bull riding with a score of 72 and Kohr and Talon Larson won team roping with a time of 6.79.
The National High School Finals Rodeo will feature roughly 1,700 riders from 43 states, according to the National High School Rodeo Association.