Teenage cowgirl makes nationals

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Kendel Fawcett plugged her ears because she feared the final results. But the finger-in-ear technique let some sound slip in and to her surprise she heard, "Kendel Fawcett, national qualifier."

Fawcett, who will be a junior next year at Moffat County High School, was so happy she shed tears. The announcement she tried to block out was the season's final standings in pole bending for the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association. Fawcett finished fourth and earned the final spot at the National High School Rodeo.

Going into the state finals in Loveland, June 17 through 21, Fawcett was in third place in poles. She had 89 points and was behind Jacey Honey and Julie Gunter's 90 points and Jayme Star's 99 points.

"Going into state, I wanted a good enough week to stay in the top four," she said. "I kind of had a bad week, but so did some of the others."

At the state rodeo, there are three rounds of competition: the first go, the second go and the short go. Additional points are awarded for how well the rider does in the three combined rounds (the average). Fawcett only scored points (finished in the top 10) in one of the three rounds at state, but that finish was a first place in the second round.

"(The first) was important to keep me toward the top," she said. "After I hit a pole in the short go, I didn't think I had made it, but the average saved me."

Fawcett went into the short go in second overall, but she hit a pole.

"I didn't know I had hit a pole," she said. "Then I turned around and saw it. I was almost devastated."

Despite having no scores in the first and short rounds, Fawcett finished eighth in the average, which earned her three points. Those three points put her ahead of Honey, 102-99, for the fourth spot.

Honey and Gunter finished out of the top four after entering the state finals in second. Fawcett said that with four opportunities to score points and the short go counting for 1 1/2 times the normal scoring, the standings can turnover quickly.

"A girl who came in at 11th finished in the top four," she said. "State can completely mix things up."

The trip will be Fawcett's first to the NHSRA. It is scheduled for July 19 through 25 in Gillette, Wyo. The Moffat County Rodeo team has sent a cowgirl to nationals three of the past four years. The team was well represented in Loveland with 15 top-10 finishes.

Top performances included a first-place finish for Tia Brannan in the first go of goat tying. Brannan also was fifth in the short go to increase her season total in goat tying to 94. She was seven points from the fourth-place finisher.

Senior Chelsey Schnackenberg placed high in her final high school rodeo. She scored points in all three rounds of pole bending. She had two fifths and a fourth-place finish. Schnackenberg finished 12th in the season standings of poles.

Senior Kelly White also placed in all three rounds of an event. White, a national qualifier her freshman year, had a ninth, a tie for sixth and a third-place in barrel racing. She finished 12th in the final standings.

Other top-10 finishes were: breakaway roping, Brannan, ninth and 10th; pole bending, Becky White, eighth, Rebecca Runyan, ninth; goat tying, Becky White, fourth.

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