Gabbi Steele, a Moffat County High School junior, rides during the 2010 Colorado High School Rodeo Finals at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. The MCHS rodeo team will again host the state finals in hopes of qualifying the five team members for the National High School Rodeo on July 17 in Gillette, Wyo.

File photo

Gabbi Steele, a Moffat County High School junior, rides during the 2010 Colorado High School Rodeo Finals at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. The MCHS rodeo team will again host the state finals in hopes of qualifying the five team members for the National High School Rodeo on July 17 in Gillette, Wyo.

MCHS rodeo team looks to qualify for national rodeo

BULLDOGS AT A GLANCE:

Coach: Janice Edwards

Returning team members: 5

By the numbers:

• 0 — number of seniors and newcomers on the MCHS rodeo team. After graduating two seniors, the Bulldogs rodeo team is made up entirely of returning members.

• 2 — Craig is in the second year of a two-year deal to host the Colorado High School State Rodeo Finals.

SCHEDULE:

Moffat County High School varsity rodeo team’s schedule:

Date Place Host

April 1 Away Cortez High School

April 2 Away Cortez High School

April 3 Away Cortez High School

April 9 Away Golden High School

April 10 Away Golden High School

April 16 Away Greeley High School

April 17 Away Greeley High School

April 23 Away Pueblo High School

April 24 Away Pueblo High School

April 30 Away Henderson High School

May 1 Away Henderson High School

May 6 Away Eagle High School

May 7 Away Eagle High School

May 8 Away Eagle High School

May 14 Away Pagosa Springs High School

May 15 Away Pagosa Springs High School

May 20 Away Lamar High School

May 21 Away Lamar High School

May 22 Away Lamar High School

May 29 Away Monte Vista High School

May 30 Away Monte Vista High School

June 15 Home High School State Finals

June 16 Home High School State Finals

June 17 Home High School State Finals

June 18 Home High School State Finals

June 19 Home High School State Finals

In Craig’s first year hosting the Colorado High School State Rodeo Finals in 2010, none of the Moffat County High School rodeo team members were able to qualify for nationals.

Set to host the finals for the second straight year, MCHS coach Janice Edwards said she hopes to have a different outcome this year.

“Last year we didn’t do too well at the state finals,” she said. “This year, I think everyone has a chance to make it because they put the hard work in by practicing and riding horses all year.”

When the state finals come to Craig on June 16 to 19, it will be the second year of a two-year deal Craig has to host the event.

After graduating two seniors last year, Taylor Vernon and Gabby Miller, this year’s Bulldogs rodeo team is made of five returning members — Gabbi Steele, Garrett Buckley, Wyatt Uptain, Casey Barnes and Taylor Duzik.

The Bulldogs will not have any new members on this year’s team.

Because of the weather, Edwards said her team wasn’t able to practice until the third week of March, only two weeks before the first rodeo on April 1 in Cortez.

“I help them by working on roping calves and steer and how to tie them probably,” Edwards said. “Wyatt’s dad, Rick, helps them with riding horses and we also have bull riding equipment that Casey can work on.”

Without the extra weeks of practice, Edwards said it is tough to tell who will step up this year. But, she feels freshman Barnes and sophomore Uptain will have breakout seasons.

“Casey did really well in middle school and I think he will continue this year,” she said. “Wyatt worked with broncos through the winter and it will pay off for him.”

Short on senior leadership, Edwards said it is harder to coach some of the events.

“With seniors, some events are easier when you are bigger,” she said. “It is easier to coach kids who have more experience because they basically know what they are doing already, and we don’t have that this year.”

Edwards said hosting the state rodeo has its advantages, but those do not include a home advantage.

“Rodeo is a lot different than sports like basketball because there really isn’t a home-court advantage,” she said. “Basically, everywhere we go, everyone kind of has the same advantage.”

Still, eliminating the need to travel is a plus, Edwards said.

“In years past when we have had to travel across the state, some kids decided not to go,” she said. “Having it here, more kids showed up last year than ever before.

“Plus, we hold it in June and here in Craig it isn’t so hot like it is in Laramie.”

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