What a way to go out. Becky White went into her last Colorado State High School Rodeo Finals needing one of her best performances to qualify for the national finals. Not only did she have one of her best rodeo weekends, she survived one of her life's most embarrassing moments in the middle of it.
To qualify for the National High School Rodeo Association finals in an event, a competitor must finish in the top four in season point standings. The season spans the school year and involves 35 rounds of rodeo. White went into the finals -- held June 22 to 26 -- in fifth place in pole bending and goat tying.
"I knew I had to do well," she said. "I didn't have to win everything, but I needed good smooth runs in every round."
In her final pole bending round, everything went smoothly until White looked down and realized that her shirt had become completely unbuttoned.
"I looked down after the second pole and realized my shirt was no longer buttoned," she said. "I don't remember the rest of the run except that I tried to cover up."
Even with the wardrobe malfunction, White finished third in the round.
It was one of those weekends. Hardly anything went poorly for the 2006 Moffat County High School graduate.
"My whole goal in high school was to go to the finals, and I'd already done that last year," she said. "My dad reminded me of that, and it helped take the pressure off."
The state finals consist of two regular rounds of rodeo. The top 15 in the average after those rounds move onto compete in the "short-go." A competitor earns points in all three rounds and earns additional points if they are in the average during the three rounds.
White started out fast in the first go-round. She finished second in goat tying, sixth in barrel racing and sixth in pole bending.
June 22 to 26Moffat County High School rodeo team top finishesFirst go-roundJustin Hegwer, seventh in steer wrestlingKendel Fawcett, first in barrel racingBecky White, second in goat tying, sixth in barrel racing, sixth in pole bendingClay Foulk and Brandon Whitaker, eighth in team ropingSecond go-roundWhitaker, eighth in Steer wrestlingFawcett, fifth in barrel racingWhite, 10th in barrel racing, seventh in goat tyingSarah Fleming, sixth in breakaway roping Short go Whitaker, 10th in steer wrestling White, third in barrel racing, first in goat tying, third in pole bending Fawcett, eighth in barrel racing, 10th in breakaway roping Finals average Fawcett, third in barrel racing White, fourth in barrel racing, second in goat tying, fourth in pole bending
She carried that momentum into the next day when she finished 10th in barrel racing and seventh in goat tying.
She qualified for the short go in barrels, goats and pole bending.
"I knew what I needed to get going into the short round," she said. "I was pretty nervous."
She finished third in pole bending to secure a fourth-place finish for the season. It also secured her second trip to the national finals.
"My mom came and told me before goats that I had made it in poles," she said. "That was a huge relief for me."
With the pressure off, White went on to finish first in goat tying.
"The goat tying was my best run of the weekend," she said.
When all the numbers were tallied, White was fourth in barrels and poles and second in goats for the average. In those three events, she placed in the top 10 in eight of nine runs.
She also finished the season as the reserve champion in the all-around points.
"I did about the best I could," she said. "I was happy with how well I did."
White's teammates had mixed results.
Justin Hegwer didn't score in saddle bronc rides, but he held on to finish fourth overall in the event. He will also be competing in the national finals.
White's best friend, Kendel Fawcett, went into the finals needing a strong weekend to make it to the finals in barrel racing.
She had first-, fifth- and eighth-place finishes and was fourth in the average. Her effort improved her standings for barrels, but she finished fifth and 12 points from her second national finals.
Last year, the national finals were in Gillette, Wyo. This year, they run from July 24 to 30 in Springfield, Ill.
White's sister, Kelly, went to the national finals in Springfield in 2001 as a freshman, and Becky went along.
"I like the facility at Spring--field, and a lot of people come to watch," she said. "It should be a lot of fun."
Heading off to the finals will be bittersweet for White, just as the state finals were. She said she's going to miss high school rodeo.
"In our last cowboy church, the preacher made a special mention of the seniors, and it made us cry," she said. "I've had a lot of good memories and times."
After the summer rodeo season, White will attend Okla--homa Panhandle State Uni--versity in the fall. She said she chose the school because it's small but has a strong rodeo program. She plans to major in secondary education.
"I want to be a teacher, and then I can still rodeo in the summers," she said. "Rodeo is something I want to do as long as I can."
She leaves Friday to compete in the International Youth Rodeo Finals in Shawnee, Okla., and then she'll go to the NHSRA finals.