Craig’s Jolene Rhyne tests out the big time in Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Championship rodeo |

Craig’s Jolene Rhyne tests out the big time in Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Championship rodeo

Jolene Rhyne smiles for a photo with her mare at the FFA 4-H horse show Monday at the Moffat County Fair.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

Jolene Rhyne is still just a freshman at Moffat County High School, but at 15 years old, Rhyne has done an awful lot already in the rodeo space.

But earlier this month, the belt buckle-laden local goat-tying, barrel-racing, pole-bending star got a taste of something new — big-city rodeo.

Rhyne competed at the Vegas Tuffest Jr. World Championship rodeo the first week of December, and, while she didn’t feel like she had her absolute best performance of her life, she thought the experience was more than worth it.

“It was really cool,” Rhyne said. “The setting was a lot different, more in the middle of town and kind of a bigger-scale rodeo. It was at a big event center, and that’s different than I’m used to. Higher level of competition, too, so it was really cool.”

Rhyne has been participating and competing in rodeo since not long after she could walk, and this was, for her, the first time she’s been at a rodeo of this sheer size.

“It took a lot to get there,” she said. “I tried to qualify for a couple years, but finally making it was really cool. I enjoy these bigger-scale rodeos.”

Rhyne competed strictly in goat-tying, which she says is her best and favorite event. She said that a disadvantageous goat reaction on her second go made her relatively rough first go stick out even worse. But, she said, it was a good time.

“I learned a lot and it wasn’t a super heartbreaker,” Rhyne said.

Rhyne continues to hope to rodeo in college, and enjoyed getting this big-focus experience under her belt. While she also competes in other events, goat-tying — even with the randomness of the goat itself — seems to suit her the best.

“It’s a very physical event, less horsepower,” she said. “The more you work at it, and you really have to put in the practice, the better you get compared to other events.”

The freshman with the Moffat County team has been competing for a long time, and she says there’s still more to learn.

“When I was younger, I didn’t enjoy (rodeo) as much, but I saw my brother like it and saw how much work he put into it,” Rhyne said. “I figured if he loves it, maybe if I put that work in I’ll love it too. Now it’s kind of like, a bad run or something going wrong, it gives you fuel to fix it. You don’t want it to happen again.”

Rhyne, who was sponsored in her efforts in Las Vegas by Darrell Camilletti of Mountain West Insurance, said it meant a lot to her to have community support behind her work on the road.

“It’s so cool having the community behind me,” she said. “Not just me and my family doing it — it’s really nice.”

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