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Saddle up: High-schoolers head to rodeo nationals

Junior high athletes return from national finals in Georgia
Mitchell Story rides Daddy Roy while competing in saddle bronc riding during the True Western Roundup rodeo at the La Plata County Fairgrounds this summer. Story is one of several athletes from the Four Corners heading to national rodeo finals in Wyoming. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

There may not be many representatives from the Four Corners traveling to the 2023 National High School Finals Rodeo. But those who are bound for 75th edition of the massive spectacle, to be held July 16-22 at the CAM-PLEX Event Center in Gillette, Wyoming, should easily be able to hold their own.

Quincy Morgan-Montoya of Hesperus (and Mancos H.S.) finished the ’22-23 Colorado State High School Rodeo Association season atop the standings in goat tying. Despite a fourth-place result in the average at the CSHSRA Finals, May 25-29 in Craig, her 114 accumulated points clipped Makaylee Fischer (Eagle; home-schooled) by one and Brooke Bruner (Parker; Lutheran H.S.) by two in one of the Association’s best-contested specialties.

Morgan-Montoya also qualified for the NHSFR in breakaway roping, with her state finals victory increasing her year-end points count to a runner-up 89.5; Maci York of Wellington ended up totaling a first-place 97.

Quincy Montoya of Mancos is honored at the state rodeo championships in Craig recently. Montoya won a state title in goat tying and is reserve champion in breakaway. (Courtesy Basin Rodeo Team)

In saddle bronc, Aztec’s Mitchell Story finished as the CSHSRA champion by covering all three horses he drew up at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. His score of 216 (71-74-71) outclassed the 204 (70-66-68) put up by finals runner-up Traven Sharon (Ordway; Fowler H.S.), who finished third in year-end points (70.5) behind older brother Waitley (118.5) and Story (138.5). Wyatt Bartel of Durango (38.5) ultimately sat sixth – just outside the required top four – in the standings.

In team roping, Story and Teagan Roukema (Taylor) of Bayfield each amassed 49 points in ’22-23 after placing seventh in the average at the MCFG, and ended up sharing sixth place for the season.

Guaranteed an attempt in each of the first two go-rounds in Gillette, Morgan-Montoya’s first try in breakaway is presently set for Monday evening with her second shot not until Friday morning. In goat tying, she’ll compete Tuesday evening and Thursday morning, with Story’s two assured saddle bronc rides coming during the same performances.

Shylene Drumm of Durango, center, finished ninth in all-around cowgirl points at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo at the end of June in Georgia. Drumm is pictured receiving at a state championship belt buckle earlier this summer (Courtesy of Basin Rodeo Team)
NJHFR Roundup

At the National Junior High Finals Rodeo, June 18-24, Durango’s Shylene Drumm represented La Plata County and Southwest Colorado impressively; when all the dust had settled in Perry, Georgia, Drumm – a four-event qualifier – ended up placing ninth in All-Around Cowgirl points by earning 650, or about half the total of Hollister, California’s Braydee Bourdet (1,305).

Drumm finished fourth in goat tying, totaling 27.7 seconds on three attempts, including a fifth-place 8.45 in the second go and a sixth-place 8.66 in the third, or “short” go. Winning both the second and short – by clocking 7.04 and 6.93, respectively – Iowa, Louisiana’s Ella Kay ranked first with a 23.01. Thanks to a fourth-fastest 8.33 in the short go, Montpelier, Idaho’s Kenlee Kunz followed with her 26.85. Third place went to Emree Woolstenhulme (27.4) of Oakley, Utah, while Mesa Shannon (27.75) of Anabel, Missouri, finished right behind Drumm after recording a second-fastest 7.71 in the short go.

All told, 161 entrants successfully snared and controlled at least one goat.

Unable to record a time during the first go in breakaway, Drumm posted a 2.41 in the second – which ended up fourth-fastest in the go and ultimately 42nd in the average, with 122 entrants clocked at least one time. In pole bending, Drumm finished 40th (out of 159) in the average, totaling 43.391 seconds on two guaranteed tries (22.073, 21.318), but did not qualify for the short.

Also entered in ribbon roping, Drumm paired with Tanner Richards of Kirk (population fewer than 100) in southern Yuma County and managed a 27.42 – landing them in 84th place in the first go, and ultimately in 114th out of 117.

Teagan McInnes of Bayfield finished 39th out of 159 in barrel racing with a two-ride total of 32.728 seconds. Her initial 16.461 ranked 52nd after the first go, and she followed it up with an improved 16.267 (48th) in the second, but did not advance to the deciding short go. Cortez’s Kelby Oliver ended up 58th out of 81 in the average in tie-down roping; he posted a time of 22.28 in the first go, good for 38th place, but couldn’t follow it up in the second.

Oliver also qualified in team roping, but he and partner Easton Zeldenthuis of Crawford did not record a time.