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Mancos student-athlete rides at high school national rodeo

Mancos-area cowgirl Rhiley Montoya heads for the finish line during her run in the pole-bending competition of the Four States Junior Rodeo in 2016.
Rhiley Morgan-Montoya finishes a wild week in Nebraska in 63rd place

Hoping to become the 50th goat-tying champion in National High School Finals Rodeo annals, Mancos High School’s Rhiley Morgan-Montoya arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska, knowing that as Colorado’s 2020-21 champ, she had a top 50 chance.

But even with the reigning champion – Madalyn Richards of Hereford, Texas – out the mix, Morgan-Montoya still faced a tall task.

And despite recording top 20 times in her first two go-rounds, Morgan-Montoya did not make the cut to the deciding short-go Saturday night, and ultimately finished the wild week ranked 63rd with her two-try total time of 21.11 seconds.

Haiden Thompson of Yoder, Wyoming, would succeed Richards by totaling 23.67 on three attempts a week after she placed 13th at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma, with a 26.80 score.

Kennedy Buckner of Powell Butte, Oregon, ended up an ultra-close Reserve Champion with a score of 23.68/3.

Second place in 2020 with a three-ride time of 22.56 seconds, in-state favorite Jessica Stevens of Creighton, Nebraska, captured the short-go with a 7.25 but totaled 24.04 and had to settle for fourth in 2021.

Stevens’ opening 7.72 score on July 19 paced the the 25 second-performance placers, including Morgan-Montoya, who had accumulated 130 points in Colorado State High School Rodeo Association action this season, narrowly beating out the 128 of Makaylee Fischer of Eagle and the 86 scored by Mackinzee Dermody of Eagle and Katie Jo Knez of Craig. In 2020, Fischer posted Colorado’s best national finish, at 60th place.

Cheyenne VandeStouwe of Inwood, Iowa – 15th last year – followed Stevens with a 7.96, and Buckner, with an 8.39.

Morgan-Montoya clocked 11.78 and finished in 16th place. At the end of the first full-go, she’d stand 103rd, but that would change later in the week.

Having had plenty of time to regroup while absorbing the atmosphere of the “World’s Largest Rodeo,” Morgan-Montoya saddled up Friday, during Performance No. 11 and placed a much-improved seventh out of 22 with a time of 9.33 seconds. Buckner clocked a leading 7.90and was followed closest by Blaize Deere (8.08) of Scotts Hill, Tennessee, and Jayda Miller (8.60) of Bowman, N.D. Stevens, meanwhile, took fourth with a 9.07.

Morgan-Montoya’s improved score earned her a share of 43rd place in the second-go. Matching her time was Tavy Leno of Sheridan, Wyoming, who’d stood ninth in the first go with an 8.01. Still able to earn a spot in the short-go and then clock a 13th-place 9.27, Leno would finish 12th at 26.61/3.

Colorado fared well in the short-go. Dermody placed fifth with a 7.70, and Wacey Day of Fleming, who was Nebraska’s All-Around Cowgirl and goat-tying champ, was seventh with an 8.06. Fischer tied for ninth with an 8.34.

In the average, Dermody snagged sixth at 24.89/3, while Day was ninth at 25.78/3, and Fischer was 11th at 26.10/3.

Helped by Madalyn Richards’ younger sister, Lucy Richards, who placed 95th at 25.34/2, Texas took the girls team championship with a total of 6,495.83 points. Colorado was 17th, with 1,255 points, down from a ninth-place finish (2,071.78 points) in 2020.

In the co-ed combined standings, Team Texas piled up 14,538.33 points and easily defeated Idaho (6,603.33) and Utah (6,600). Colorado ended up 18th with 2,558.33 points, down from seventh place (5,301.78) in 2020.

Next summer’s Nationals are set for July 17-23, in Gillette, Wyoming, and are slated to revisit Lincoln in 2026 and 2027.

More Morgan-Montoyas

Quincy Morgan-Montoya wrapped up the 2020-21 CSHSRA season 11th in season goat-tying points (60). Rhiley ended up tied for eighth (53 points) in breakaway roping and ultimately placed eighth in All-Around Cowgirl points (236.5) to further pad her résumé. Quincy ranked 12th in breakaway (38.5 points) and 22nd in A-A (99.5).

After the CSHSRA finals in Craig at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, the elder Morgan-Montoya also finished 13th in barrel racing (37 points), three spots behind Montezuma-Cortez High’s Chevelle Reed (48.5).