Craig junior high athletes qualify for national rodeo |

Craig junior high athletes qualify for national rodeo

Joshua Gordon

Four members of the Moffat County junior high rodeo team will compete in the national rodeo June 26 to July 2 in Gallup, N.M. From left are Garrett Uptain, Trent Vernon, Dusty Taylor and Denton Taylor.

Trent Vernon and Dusty Taylor sat atop a white fence Thursday watching the action at the Colorado State High School Rodeo finals at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

Vernon, 13, and Dusty, 12, are just over a year away from competing in high school, but they aren't waiting until then to prepare.

Along with Garrett Uptain and Denton Taylor, Vernon and Dusty will compete on the Colorado Junior High National rodeo team June 26 to July 2 in Gallup, N.M.

"We had to do good all year and compete well at state to make the team," Vernon said. "The more points we got, the better chance we had."

Each athlete placed in the top four of their events at the June 4 and 5 state competition in Monte Vista.

Vernon will compete in breakaway roping and goat tying, brothers Dusty and Denton will compete in team roping while Denton also competes in tie-down roping, and Uptain will compete in bull riding.

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Dusty said making the national team is hard to describe.

"It is probably the biggest honor ever," he said. "We get to go to Gallup and compete for 10 days with the best athletes from the state."

For Vernon, competing in rodeos is like no other sport.

"Rodeos are something not many people do," he said. "There is a lot of adrenaline rushing and I get a chance to represent our state against kids from all over the country."

While most events require riding a horse, bull riding breaks from tradition.

Uptain, 13, said after watching his older brother, Moffat County High School athlete Wyatt Uptain, compete in bull riding when he was 7, he had to give it a try.

"When guys are in the shoots, they don't really think about it because you are riding a bull," Uptain said. "I thought it looked like a challenge, so I was excited to try it."

During Thursday's high school competition, two bull riders had to be taken out of the arena via ambulance.

Uptain said in bull riding, it's not a matter of if you get hurt, but when.

"I know I will eventually get hurt," he said. "But, you can't think about that. You can't be afraid of getting hurt."

Denton, 14, said he may not be riding bulls, but tie-down roping has challenges, too.

Competitors must chase a calf and rope it from a horse before jumping off and holding the calf down for at least six seconds.

The challenge and competition level is what draws Denton in, he said.

"My favorite part is competing to win an event," he said. "I don't think any other sport I do gives the same feeling of accomplishment."

While all four athletes said their goal is bringing home a national title, coach Janice Edwards said qualifying is a feat in and of itself.

"It is amazing how they have performed and it is a great feat to be able to compete at nationals," she said. "Besides Denton, the other three guys are in seventh grade, so they will still have another year to compete before high school."

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Standing in the Colorado State High School Rodeo finals after Thursday’s first and second performances:

Saddle bronc riding:

(Name — hometown)

  1. Noah Blackwell, Parlin

  2. Wyatt Uptain, Craig

  3. Tanner Lockhart, Lewis

Tie-down roping:

  1. Hayden Pearce, Kim

  2. Kelton McMillen, Kim

  3. Trenton Turner, Springfield

Steer wrestling:

  1. Donnie White, Fowler

  2. Keenan Wahlert, La Junta

  3. Tylor Bond, Avondale

Bull riding:

  1. Ty Wallace, Collbran

  2. Casey Farrington, Collbran

  3. Colten Gardner, La Salle

Dally team roping:

  1. Marcus Banister, Brighton, and Brit Ellerman, Fort Lupton

  2. Michael Manzanares, Tierra Aarilla, and Rusty Van Soelen, Durango

  3. Austin Crist, Rocky Ford, and Taten Koenig, Sanford

Pole bending:

  1. Skylar Eagles, Center

  2. Kaitlyn Jones, Hotchkiss

  3. Hayley Hensley, Dolores

Breakaway roping:

  1. Katelyn McRee, Pagosa Springs

  2. Hayden Segelke, Snyder

  3. Paxton Segelke, Snyder

Barrel racing:

  1. Hayden Segelke, Snyder

  2. Shay Spitz, Lamar

  3. Katelyn McRee, Pagosa Springs

Goat tying:

  1. Hayden Segelke, Snyder

  2. Bailey Grasmick, La Junta

  3. Paxton Segelke, Snyder

Bareback riding:

  1. Dylan Wahlert, La Junta

  2. Zach Nicely, Golden

  3. Levi Nicholson, Winder


Remaining schedule of events for the Colorado State High School Rodeo finals:


• 10 a.m. — Third performance

• 8 p.m. — Fourth performance


• 10 a.m. — Championship round

• 2 p.m. — Awards dinner

— All performances take place at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, 640 E. Victory Way


• 11 and older — $20*

• 10 and under — free

• Senior citizens — free

• Junior high rodeo members — free (w/ back number)

*Wristband, one-time charge for all performances

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