“You are always cheering for your teammates, but you want yourself to do the best. I still have to go up there and rock the bucking horses.”
— Wyatt Uptain, a Moffat County High School rodeo athlete, on competing in the national rodeo as the lone MCHS athlete
Garrett Buckley was certain he had made the Colorado national rodeo team following the June 19 championship performance of the Colorado State High School Rodeo finals.
Buckley, a Moffat County High School rodeo athlete, won the first performance of saddle bronc riding June 17 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds and followed up with another first-place finish in the championship round.
However, a bad round June 18 ultimately cost him.
“The fourth-place guy and me kept battling throughout for the last spot,” Buckley said Wednesday. “I thought the two first-place finishes got me in, but the average knocked me out.”
After learning he took first in the championship round, Buckley said he was told by officials running the bronc riding competition, as well as fellow riders, that he secured fourth and a national team berth.
With the top four athletes in each event making the national team, Buckley headed into the awards banquet certain he had wrapped up a place on the team.
But, Talon Shipman, of Lamar, ended the season with 50 points while Buckley ended with 46.5 points, missing out on the national team by 3.5 points.
“It stunk to miss out, but I got two buckles out of the deal,” Buckley said. “I was happy with the way things went at state and I will strive to make the national team next year.”
With Buckley out, Wyatt Uptain will be the lone rodeo athlete representing MCHS at the national rodeo July 17 to 23 in Gillette, Wyo., competing in saddle bronc riding.
“You are always cheering for your teammates, but you want yourself to do the best,” Uptain said. “I still have to go up there and rock the bucking horses.”
Without a teammate, Uptain said he would rely more on his parents for support in Gillette, and while he feels bad for Buckley, making the national team is a big honor for him.
“Not many rodeo kids from Moffat County make the national team,” he said. “It is a pretty big feat to be the only one.”
Uptain said he is looking forward to two things at the national rodeo — the horses and competition.
“The horses will probably be the best bucking horses I have seen all year and I should be able to score a lot of points on them,” he said. “I know the competition is really tough and that is going to drive me to ride tough in my opinion.”
With about two weeks until the national rodeo, Uptain said he would keep training at other rodeos, including 10 rodeos in a five-day stretch next week.
“My goal at nationals is to ride all three horses and hopefully make the short go,” he said. “I want to be prepared heading in and hopefully accomplish a big feat.”
While Buckley won’t be competing at the national rodeo, he said he would still continue preparing for next year.
Buckley will compete in the Silver State International rodeo Tuesday in Winnemucca, Wyo.
“My goal next year is to make the national team,” he said. “I was really happy with the way I ended the season this year and I will use that to push me next year.”
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