Members of the Moffat County junior high and high school rodeo teams pose at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Jaidyn Steele (seventh grade), Dusty Taylor (10th grade), Denton Taylor (11th grade) and Garrett Uptain (10th grade) are just four members of a stacked group of Moffat County cowboys and cowgirls who plan on bringing home several more buckles from the state and national rodeos in the coming year.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Members of the Moffat County junior high and high school rodeo teams pose at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Jaidyn Steele (seventh grade), Dusty Taylor (10th grade), Denton Taylor (11th grade) and Garrett Uptain (10th grade) are just four members of a stacked group of Moffat County cowboys and cowgirls who plan on bringing home several more buckles from the state and national rodeos in the coming year.

Moffat County rodeo team among state's best, from top to bottom

2013-14 rodeo schedule*

Sept. 20 and 21: Grand Junction

March 30 and 31: Cortez

April 6 and 7: Kiowa

April 13 and 14: Golden

April 20 and 21: Pueblo

April 27 and 28: Henderson

May 4 and 5: Eagle

May 10 to 12: Fort Collins (high school only)

May 17 to 19: Lamar

May 24 and 25: Junior high state in Monte Vista

May 26 and 27: Monte Vista (high school only)

June 5 to 9: High school state in Lamar

*Each weekend consists of two rodeos for both age groups.

— Despite losing some talented members from its high school rodeo team, there still is no group in the state doing it better than Moffat County.

The high school and junior high cowboys and girls who make up this year’s rodeo team are as good as it gets.

Moffat County had a couple of perennial national qualifiers age out of the high school ranks this year. Wyatt Uptain and Garrett Buckley each won state titles last year, and Uptain was an all-around champion in the state two years ago. But without those two, expectations remain high for those still around.

“People should expect more of us going to nationals,” said Dusty Taylor, a sophomore at Moffat County High School. “We’re really competitive in rodeo, and we’ve got a lot of experience.”

Taylor and his older brother Denton, a junior at MCHS, compete in team roping together and have aspirations of qualifying for nationals themselves this year.

Another pair of siblings, Kasen and Kinlie Brennise, are studs at the junior high level. Kasen took second place in the all-around competition at the state rodeo last year and is looking forward to taking that title as an eighth-grader. Kinlie is a seventh-grader and coming off some national qualifiers of her own.

Despite being a relatively small group, all the Moffat County rodeo competitors are among the best at what they do, a fact born from years of hard work.

“We’ve all done it since we were really little,” Dusty Taylor said. “We’re like third-generation cowboys.”

What’s more is their skills are varied. Nearly every rodeo event available has some name from Moffat County near the top of its standings.

“We do just about everything between all of us,” Kasen Brennise said. “You name it, and we’ve probably got somebody doing it.”

The rodeo season consists of six events during the fall and 16 more in the spring before the state finals in late May and early June. Each event has a possibility of as many as 10 points available, and competitors take their top 10 scores from the entire year to the state rodeo. The top four at state then are invited to nationals.

For the Moffat County team, goals this season all carry a similar theme: bigger and better than a 2012-13 season that was wildly successful.

“I want to make it to nationals in more than I made it in last year,” Jaidyn Steele said about the junior high team. “I made it in two events last year, so anything more than that.”

On down the line, the cowboys and cowgirls talk about their plans for state titles and going back to nationals when next summer rolls around. They are confident in their abilities because of the work they put in to get better.

“You have to get out every day to be competitive,” Trent Vernon said. “We’re out there all summer working on our events.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.

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