Bulldogs send one to National Rodeo

One thing that can always be expected is the unexpected.

For Kelly White, a freshman on the Moffat County High School rodeo team, this was proven Saturday during the State Rodeo in Greeley.

White has lead the state throughout the year in barrel racing and has held the state's fourth-place position in pole bending.

A state title came for White unexpectedly in pole bending after performing three nearly-perfect runs in a competition where the top-three spots were separated by a single point.

White's other unexpected finish came when of Durango's Abby Rice edged White out of first place in the short round.

The finishes were unexpected, but White accepted them in stride.

"l didn't put as much pressure on myself going into the poles, since I thought I had a better chance at placing in the barrels," she said. "So I think the relaxed attitude helped me out a little bit."

Finishing first and second respectively in pole and barrel racing, means that the end of July is already planned out for White.

She will be the lone Bulldog at the High School National Rodeo, July 23-29 in Springfield, llinois.

The top-four finishers in each event from state rodeos around the nation qualify for the national event.

White may be the only national qualifier from Moffat County, but that didn't mean she was the lone qualifier for the state rodeo.

She was joined by Jen Anthony, Kayla Steele, Chelsey Schnackenberg and Shelea Pinnt. They qualified in the barrel racing and pole racing events.

Pinnt was the only other Moffat County rodeo participant to make the short round, though it was by the narrowest of margins.

Pinnt placed 17th after the two preliminary runs in barrel racing, which is two spots out of short-round qualification. But when the 15th and 16th-placed riders didn't show up for the short round, Pinnt was entered.

There were also two members of the boys team who represented the Bulldogs at state. George Raftopoulos and Luke Wilson competed in the team-roping event, but they finished near the bottom of the pack.

"There was a lot of competition at state, so it was a tough rodeo for everyone," said Robin White, Kelly's mother, who has attended every rodeo Moffat County has competed in this year.

The Moffat County Rodeo team will hang up its saddles and spurs until the beginning of the season next fall, all except for White.

For White, in many respects the summer has just begun, and her practice schedule will remain the same six days on, and one day off.

White will work with her 15-year-old gelding, Webster, six-days-a-week, going through trotting exercises and running the barrels and poles.

Webster and White will also take on local competition as the weekly barrel races will continue to be held every Tuesday night at the fairgrounds.

The only break in the regimine will come at the beginning of July when she travels to Shawnee Okla., for the International Youth Rodeo Finals.

The Shawnee rodeo can be considered a harder competition than Nationals, because Shawnee draws in the top youth rodeo participants not only from America, but from Canada as well.

The rodeos that White is slotted to ride in this summer have raised the pressure level, but have not become an intimidation factor.

"I am nervous about going to Shawnee and Nationals, really because I don't know what to expect," White said. "I just need to keep on like I have all year, and go out there and try that's all I can do."

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