Six local athletes represented their hometown well during this year’s National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette.
A total of 18 athletes from Campbell County participated in this year’s finals. Six of those 18 made it to the championship round of their respective events this weekend.
Hayden Welsh had the best performance out of the 18 local athletes. The 16-year-old came just seconds away from winning a world title but was bucked off in the short go for bull riding to finish as the reserve world champion.
Welsh’s second-place finish was fueled by hundreds of hometown fans chanting his name. He went into the short go in first place in the average and was the last scheduled performer at this year’s NHSFR.
“As soon as I climbed into that chute I could just hear the crowd and everything they were chanting,” Welsh said. “It was pretty sweet. That hometown crowd definitely helped. It was one of those things that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.”
Welsh qualified for the short go after finishing seventh in the first round with a score of 77 and winning the second round with a score of 87.5. The hometown bull rider was bucked off four seconds into his short go performance to land him in second place in the world with an average score of 164.5.
“People were coming up to me saying tough luck and stuff but I was telling everybody, ‘Hey, I’m second in the world. That’s still a great feeling. It still says champion when you’re the reserve champion.”
Finishing second in the world exceeded all expectations he had for himself going into his first career NHSFR. Welsh’s dad, Bobby Welsh, won the NHSFR bull riding title exactly 20 years ago.
“Honestly I was expecting to get my butt kicked,” Welsh said. “I wasn’t expecting to come out here and finish second in the world. I’m always shooting to win but this experience definitely boosted my confidence a whole bunch.”
Kolton Miller also finished top 3 in the world while performing in front of a home crowd. The Wyoming state champion in both trap shooting and tie-down roping finished third in trap shooting with a score of 180. He shot a 25 in round one, a 25 in round two, a 24 in round three and a 25 in round four.
In the timed arena, Miller finished 14th in the world in tie-down roping. He finished 18th in the first round with a time of 10.42 and 17th in the second round with a time of 10.39 but didn’t score in the short go to finish 14th in the average with a total time of 20.81.
RaeLee Caldwell finished fourth in the world in goat tying with an average of 24.55. She finished 39th in the first round with a score of 8.61 but bounced back and took fourth place in the second round with a time of 7.54 to qualify for the short go. In the championship round, Caldwell finished fifth with a time of 8.4.
Rozet's Kaeley Hutchison finished fifth in the breakaway average with a total score of 10.05. She finished 12th in the first round with a time of 2.76 and 32nd in the second round with a time of 3.25 to qualify for the short go. She finished fifth in the final round with a time of 4.04.
Rozet’s Ashlyn Goven was one of the most consistent cowgirls during this year’s NHSFR. She finished 10th in the average for both barrel racing (52.068 seconds) and pole bending (60.91).
In the barrels, Goven finished 16th in the first go with a time of 17.437 and 17th in the second go with a time of 17.406 to qualify for the short go. In the final round, Goven finished eighth with a time of 17.189.
She finished 13th in the first round of pole bending (20.508) and 19th in the second round (20.386) to qualify for the short go. In the final round, Goven finished 10th with a score of 20.016.
As a testament to her consistency, the 17-year-old finished fourth in the all-around cowgirl standings with a total score of 650.
Cody Boller of Weston — the Wyoming state champion in boys cutting — tied for 16th in the world in boys cutting. He finished with an average of 421 points through three rounds.
Boller tied for 18th in the first round with a score of 141 and tied for 14th in the second round with a score of 142 to qualify for the short go. In the final round, he tied for 17th with a score of 138.
Twelve more Campbell County athletes competed in the first two rounds of this year’s NHSFR.
- Sydney Oedekoven had a solid week in barrel racing but missed qualifying for the short go by just one spot. The 17-year-old finished 32nd in the first round with a time of 17.679 and 13th in the second round with a time of 17.401
- Jordan Morman competed in barrel racing and finished 42nd in the first round with a time of 17.779 and 64th in the second round with a time of 17.833.
- Caitlin Moore of Wright qualified in the pole bending and was Wyoming’s rookie cowgirl of the year at this year’s state finals. She finished 14th in the first round with a time of 20.622 but missed the short go after finishing 112th in the second round with a time of 24.829.
- Adeline Norstegaard participated in girls cutting. She tied for 16th in the first round with a score of 143 and tied for 66th in the second round with a score of 132.
- Teanna Jolovich qualified in girls cutting. She tied for 24th in the first round with a score of 142 and tied for 78th in the second round with a score of 127.
- Rozet’s Talli Engle participated in pole bending. She finished 36th in the first round with a time of 20.978 and 130th in the second round with a time of 25.671.
- Keyton Hayden competed in boys cutting. He tied for 24th in the first round with a score of 139 and tied for 47th in the second round with a score of 137.
- Joseph Hayden qualified in boys cutting. He tied for 73rd in the first round with a score of 125 and tied for 80th in the second round with a score of 124.
- Chance Sorenson of Spotted Horse participated in steer wrestling. He finished 40th in the first round with a time of 7.44 and didn’t score in the second round.
- Peityn Manor finished 71st in the light rifle with a score of 241. She scored a 104 in the prone shooting, a 67 in standing and a 70 in kneeling.
- Grady Edwards competed in bareback riding. He didn’t score in the first round and finished 50th in the second round with a score of 49.
- Coy Thar of Rozet qualified in tie-down roping but didn’t score in the first or second round.