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Wyatt Wood took fifth in bareback riding at the national finals, his last high school rodeo before starting college.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Wyatt Wood of Prineville, pictured here at the 2022 OHSRA state finals in June, took fifth place in bareback riding at the National High School Finals Rodeo, which was held in Gillette, Wyoming, over July 17-23.

Oregon had a solid performance at the National High School Finals Rodeo, which was held July 17-23 in Gillette, Wyoming.

The Oregon team finished in eighth place in the boys competition, 10th in the girls competition and ninth overall out of 45 state teams that scored points. Texas won both the girls and overall team titles, amassing 6,600 points in the girls scoring and 11,430 overall. Meanwhile, Utah won the boys competition with 5,565 points and was second overall with 9,278. Rounding out the overall standings were Wyoming (7,981.36), Oklahoma (7,285), Arizona (5,978.57), South Dakota (5,308.75), California (4,398.57), Montana (4,335), Oregon (4,174.28) and Idaho (4,109.94).

Oregon competitors had its best performances in bareback riding, taking fourth, fifth, 41st and 48th in the average in the event.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: DEBBIE WOOD - Wyatt Wood poses with his buckles for placing top 10 in bareback riding at the national finals, as well as for top-four placements in the first go-round and short go-round.Prineville's Wyatt Wood had an outstanding rodeo, taking fourth in the first go round of bareback riding with a score of 77, then 23rd in the second go round (64) and fourth in the final go round (76) to finish fifth in the average with a total score of 217.

"I'm satisfied that I placed this high," Wood said. "But I did go on my phone and use a calculator, and if I would have been 79 on my second horse, we would be writing in the article that I was national champ. I think it was just a weak horse. I like riding stronger ones. They just fit me better, but I think he was a little older horse and didn't really want to put any try into the ride, so that was a low score. But there is nothing I can change about that now."

Wood made his first ride on a Monday night, then did not ride again until Friday morning.

With the long wait, Wood said that his family did some sightseeing. In his past two years at the national finals, Wood stayed in a hotel. This year, the family stayed in a trailer on the rodeo grounds.

"We went to Mount Rushmore and did a little bit of touristy stuff, and then I would go back there (the rodeo) and help all my friends while they were riding," he said. "I just always found activities to do. It was really fun interacting with all the kids from other places. There were kids from other states, and being able to just hang out with all my friends from Oregon, too — and not have to go home late to a hotel. You end up hanging out with people that you never thought you would have stuff in common with, and then it turns out they become your best friend."

Wood added that not only was the overall experience good, but that his performance in the rodeo gave him a lot of confidence heading into his first year of college rodeo at California Polytechnic University this fall.

"It is a very big confidence booster going back there and being able to ride like I did," he said. "It makes me excited about what college has to offer to me."

Prior to nationals, Wood finished second at the Oregon state finals. The state champion, Mason Stuller of Venetta, also had a great national finals, taking fourth in the average with 221 points. The remaining two Oregon qualifiers in the event also had some success.

Although he finished just 41st in the average, Fossil's Clint Rutherford took fourth in the second go round. Spray's Tyrel Holmes was just 48th in the final standings. However, like Rutherford he had one solid round, finishing 25th in the second go round.

Both Wood and Stuller also had success in the bareback riding jackpot, with Wood cashing three times for $1,355.28 and Stuller cashing in twice for $1,575.06.

Tucler Carricato of Saratoga, Wyoming, won the bareback championship with 229 points.

Bareback riding was Wood's lone event at the national finals. However, Stuller and Rutherford also competed in saddle bronc riding, with Stuller finishing eighth in the average with 203 points and Rutherford taking 42nd. With the top-10 finish, Stuller was also second in the all-around average behind only Ketch Kelton of Mayer, Arizona.

Two other Oregon cowboys also placed in saddle bronc riding. Shane Scott, who lives in Ridgefield, Washington, but competes for Oregon, finished 17th in the event, while Chase Martin of Beavercreek finished in 40th place. Statler Wright of Beaver, Utah, won the event with 229 points.

Cody Gann of Leighton, Alabama, won the boys cutting with 445 points. Oregon's Logan Blackman of Mulino tied for 44th with 271 points, while Dysan Robb of Baker City tied for 47th and Sam McCracken of John Day finished 59th with 265 points.

Breakaway roping was won by Jenna Hume of Orfordville, Wisconsin, with a three-head time of 8.23. Bayli Ladner of Klamath Falls was 13th with a time of 6.52 on two heads. Shealyn Harrison of Scio finished in 26th place, and Brooke Blevins of Redmond wound up in 100th.

No Oregon riders made qualified rides in bull riding, as John Crimber of Decatur, Texas, won with 169 points on two head.

Girls cutting was won by Riley Farris of Madisonville, Texas, with 438 points. As for Oregon's representatives, Olivia Davison of Carlton finished 34th, Layla Knight of Yamhill took 38th, Halle Bergen of Eagle Point wound up 56th and Madison Duarte of Beatty took 94th.

Jacee Graff of St. George, Utah, won goat tying with a time of 22.82 on three head, while Junction City's Faith Marshall took second in 23.8. Lakeview's Kenna Stratton was also in the top 10, taking seventh with a time of 25.14. Katie Ayres of Canby failed to reach the finals and finished in 94th, while Gracie Garthwaite of Condon managed to catch just one goat, finishing in 144th place.

Rayne Grant of Wheatland, Wyoming, finished first in pole bending with a total time of 59.308 on three runs. Hermiston's Alyson Terry took 17th, Milton-Freewater's Lauryn Riney finished 25th, John Day's Bailey McCracken wound up 29th and Georgia Lieuallen of Pendleton finished 175th.

The reined cow horse average was won by Ryley Wilson of Chilliwack, British Columbia, with 892 points. Anela Stewart of Eagle Point finished in 11th with 871 points, while Ladner took 26th, Duarte wound up 45th and Sam McCracken came away with 103rd.

Nebraska's Coy Johnston won steer wrestling with a time of 13.79 on three runs, while Blane Mahoney of Heppner finished in 16th, Spray's Nathan Clark finished in 86th, Carter Boise, also of Spray, finished in 92nd and Ty Taylor of Burns finished 93rd.

Team roping was won by James Arviso and Cashton Weidenbener of Arizona with a combined time of 19.24. Tommy Jack Rose of Burns and Cody Siegner of Crane were the top Oregon finishers, taking 19th with a time of 17.77 on two head. Ladner and Hanley Miller of Enterprise finished in 41st place, while Marcus Marriott of Canby and Justin Reno of Springfield came away with 45th and Adam White and Ty Taylor, both of Burns, finished in 49th.

In the final event of the rodeo, Tyler Calhoun of Richards, Texas, won the tie-down roping with a combined time of 27.41. Cael Stratton of Lakeview took 13th, Miller ended up in 29th, Gator Goodrich of Stanfield wound up 50th and Siegner came away with 58th place.

Stuller was not the only Oregon athlete to earn recognition outside of their individual event. Ladner wound up first in the all-around cowgirl rookie standings, Miller was sixth in the all-around rookie cowboy standings and Siegner finished eight in the rookie standings.

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