Two Jefferson County cowboys led the Central Oregon contingent at the National High School Finals Rodeo, which was held July 17-23 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Six cowboys and one cowgirl from the Tri-County Rodeo Club — which represents high school athletes in Jefferson, Deschutes, Crook counties — made the trek to the finals. Coy Aldrich, a 2020 Culver High School graduate, had the highest finish of all the local athletes. Aldrich, along with roping partner Brayden Schmidt of Benton City, Washington, finished seventh out of more than 100 teams in team roping.
Antelope's Cord Gomes also had a strong nationals, taking 17th in steer wrestling.
Aldrich and his partner had a three-run time of 27.23. Aldrich and Schmidt tied for 16th in the first go round with a time of 7.78. Consistent roping saw the duo finish 19th in the second go round with a time of 8.03. The pair were slower in the short go round, but still earned a time of 11.42 seconds, good for seventh in the round. Luis Mendiaz of Santa Fe, New Mexico,teamed with Quincy Sullivan of Peralta, New Mexico, to win the average in team roping with a time of 20.61 seconds.
Aldrich was in good position after the first round of tie-down roping, but a no time on the second run kept him out of the short go. His time of 11.9 seconds in the first round was good for 25th place, while Aldrich finished 59th in the average. Riley Webb of Denton, Texas, won the event with a combined time of 27.3 seconds on three head.
Aldrich received more good news when his horse, Pistols Perk, finished third in the AQHA boys horse of the year awards. Sevens Crazy Horse (Batman), ridden by Trevor Hale of Texas, was named the horse of the year.
In taking 17th overall, Gomes put forth a combined time of 25.33 seconds. Gomes could easily have placed higher. The Culver High School 2020 graduate was 36th in the first go round with a time of 6.11 seconds. Gomes came back to win the second go round in a time of 4.32 seconds, positioning himself with a chance for a top 10 finish. However, Gomes drew a fast calf in the short go round and struggled to make his catch in 14.9 seconds to finish 17th in the round. Still, it was a solid performance for someone making their first trip to the national finals.
Cash Robb of Altamont, Utah, won the event with a time of 13.01 on three head.
Powell Butte cowboy Caleb Carpenter also competed in team roping. The heeler teamed with Cael Stratton of Lakeview to finish 30th overall in the event with a commended time of 36.49 on two head. The duo finished 43rd in the first go round with a time of 12.81 seconds, then placed 61st in the second go round with a time of 23.68. Despite two qualified runs, the pair failed to make it to the short go round.
The remaining Tri-County Rodeo Club athletes struggled to lower finishes in the final standings, but that doesn't mean that they didn't have some high points during the seven-day competition.
After failing to make a qualified ride in the first round of bareback riding, Prineville's Wyatt Wood placed 27th in the second go round with a score of 59. Unfortunately, with just one qualified ride, Wood failed to make the short go round, placing 39th in the final standings.
Mason Stuller of Veneta, Oregon won the event with a score of 239 on three head, edging Sam Petersen of Helena, Montana, who finished second with a three-ride total of 237.
Powell Butte's Decklan Lundquist also earned a qualified ride, placing 24th in the first go round of saddle bronc riding with a score of 48. However, like Wood, Lundquist was unable to make a second ride, missing a chance to compete in the short go round. Ludnquist wound up in 31st place in the event.
Cable Wareham of Whiting, Kansas, won the event with a three-ride total of 216.5.
Prineville's Jace England also competed in the rough stock events, but failed to make a qualified ride.
The lone local cowgirl to compete in the national finals was Powell Butte's Kennedy Buckner. The high school junior competed in both breakaway roping and pole bending. Buckner was in 25th place after the first go round of breakaway roping with a solid time of 3.22 seconds. However, she failed to get a time in the second go round, missing the short go round and placing 77th overall. Hooter Murphy of Keachi, Louisianna, won the event with a three-rope total of 7.81 seconds.
After placing 114th in the first go round of pole bending with a time of 26.087, Buckner rebounded to finish seventh in the second go round with a time of 20.069. However, she had too much time to make up and failed to make the short go round, finishing 65th in the final standings. Rylee Hardin of Newcastle, Texas, won the event with a three-ride total of 58.245.
Buckner's horse Peppy's Sweet Lilly finished sixth in the girls AQHA horse of the year awards.
Other event winners at this year's finals included Kolby Stelly of Sulphur, Louisiana, in bull riding, Jade Ridisbacher of Lakeshore, Utah, in barrel racing, Jaycee Lowery of Gardendale, Alabama, in girls cutting, Madalyn Richards of Hereford, Texas, in goat tying, Rance Peebles of Alpine, Texas, in boys cutting and BreAnne Benson of West Fargo, North Dakota, in reined cow horse.
Veneta's Stuller won the boys all-around championship, while Kylie Conner of Welsh, Louisiana, was the girls all-around champion.
Texas easily won both the boys and girls team titles, amassing 10,335 points in the boys competition and 6,550 in the girls competition. As a result, Texas won the overall championship with more than double the points of second-place Utah. Texas finished with 16,885 points, while Utah finished with 7,381.25 points.
Rounding out the top five in the overall team competition were Oklahoma, 7,069.56, Louisiana, 6,605 and Kansas, 6,434.28.
Oregon finished 11th in the boys competition with 2,180 points, 15th in the girls competition with 1,285 points, and 11th overall with 3,465.
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