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Four Corners participants perform in National High School Finals Rodeo

Aztec saddle-bronc entrant wins second go-round
The National High School Rodeo Association

It probably comes as little surprise that Wyoming – casually called “The Cowboy State” – was the first state by law to earmark the fourth Saturday in July for celebrations “to permanently protect our cowboy culture and pioneer heritage for all generations to come,” according to the nonprofit National Day of the Cowboy organization.

With the 2022 National High School Finals Rodeo wrapping up on one side of the state and the iconic Cheyenne Frontier Days ramping up on another, the 18th annual NDOC on Saturday couldn’t have fallen upon a better date.

And Mitchell Story sought to make it a day to remember.

Competing in the NHSFR at the CAM-PLEX Event Center in Gillette, the saddle bronc-buster from Aztec, New Mexico, began the day in prime position to contend for World Champion honors, having already logged an 81-point ride during the completed first go-round. That tied him with Morgan, Utah’s Hayz Madsen and Canadian Briley Scott of Sundre, Alberta, for second overall in the go, trailing only the 82 of Thayne Elshere of Hereford, South Dakota.

Story’s initial effort came July 17, during the nationals’ very first performance. He wasn’t slated to go again until Saturday during the 12th and final performance, hoping to be one of 20 qualifying for that night’s championship – or “short” – go. And the wait proved well worth it.

Registering one of just three scoring rides in the session, Story posted a perf-best 84, which shot him straight to the top of the second-go standings and into the grand finale. And despite being unable to go 3-for-3 for the week, Story’s 165/2 figures were enough to earn ‘Mitchie’ 12th place in the event’s average – won by Statler Wright (229/3) of Beaver, Utah – and help New Mexico rack up 2,065 points and finish 11th in the boys’ team standings.

Ranking 15th, Team Colorado tallied 1,890, aided by a strong second-go effort in team roping from Ignacio’s Bodie Hine and Penrose’s Brayden Fillmore.

After a first attempt July 18, the duo made amends Friday with a 5.41-second clocking which held up as second-fastest among 63 timings in the go. Ultimately, Hine/Fillmore would finish 32nd in the average, trailing Team Arizona’s winning James Arviso/Cashton Weidenbener tandem, which was 19.24 for three tries, including a second-best 5.94 in the short go.

Consistency was Bayfield steer wrestler Caleb Lake’s best ally at the NHSFR. Despite his second-go time of 7.30 seconds Friday night, 0.64 seconds slower than and 12 places lower than his first-go, Lake’s two-head total of 13.96 lifted him to 23rd in the average after a 31st in the first go-round and a 43rd in the second.

Having led the first go with a time of 4.14 seconds, Nebraska’s Coy Johnston would book a seventh-fastest 4.86 in the second go, then a fourth-fastest 4.79 in the short for title-winning 13.79/3.

Riding with Team Arizona (3,670 points, fourth place), Pecos Tatum of La Plata, New Mexico, placed 30th in the average for tie-down roping. He clocked times of 10.82 and 15.75 seconds, for a total of 26.57.

On the girls’ side, Ignacio’s Teryn McWhirter clocked 3.64 seconds for her first run in breakaway roping Wednesday for 37th out of 84 in the first go behind the 2.05 of Florida’s Kaydence Tindall. Making her second guaranteed nationals attempt that same night, McWhirter finished 76th in the average, headed by World Champion Jenna Hume (2.61-2.77-2.85—8.23) of Orfordville, Wisconsin.

Rhiley Montoya of Hesperus managed a time of 8.13 seconds Thursday on her second try in goat tying, but without a first-go time, she ended 124th in the average. Placing 137th, sister Quincy also did not record a first-go time but clocked 9.31 during the second.

Jacee Graff of St. George, Utah, went 8.29-7.69-6.84 on her three tries for a championship-winning total of 22.82 seconds.

All told, Team Colorado totaled 838.03 points and placed 20th; New Mexico amassed 1,457.14 and took 12th.

Performing in the big ‘Daddy’

Speaking of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, 2016 Ignacio High School graduate Tyler Beebe continued his own busy July – including competitions in Estes Park, Gunnison, Steamboat Springs and Pagosa Springs – entered in the Rookie Saddle Bronc division at the 126th event and had a 69-pointer to his name as of press time Tuesday.

According to the tournament-style format, the top four scores each day advance to the July 29-30 semifinals, with the top six from each day of semifinals action advancing to the finals on July 31.