Fame is bleating: Craig cowgirl Katie Jo Knez state champion in goat tying
GOAT has come to mean Greatest of All Time for the world’s most elite athletes throughout the years.
And, though it might be a long time from now, Craig’s Katie Jo Knez might just attain such a nickname one day.
Her chosen sport might at least give her an advantage.
Knez achieved a state championship Monday in the girls goat tying event of Colorado Junior High Rodeo Association, winning by a margin of 1.5 points to get set for the Junior High National Finals in June in Huron, South Dakota.
Qualifying for nationals seemed likely for the Craig Middle School student who just completed seventh-grade, ranked fourth headed into state.
She placed fourth in Friday’s first round, but she caught her competitors’ attention Sunday morning with a belt buckle in the second round with the fastest time of the entire weekend in the event, getting her goat on the ground and subdued in 7.83 seconds.
Knez finished the short go Monday as runner-up, yet her times across all three days easily won her the average title at 26.47 seconds, nearly four seconds in accumulated time faster than everyone else.
That made all the difference in her season total, moving to 103.5 points to overtake reserve champion Quincy Morgan-Montoya’s 102 and earn the belt buckle.
The weekend at state went well for her in the breakaway roping Sunday, though her win on the second day was in between two days of struggle, ultimately finishing the year sixth, outside of national qualification.
Her efforts in the team roping and ribbon roping were also tricky, paired in both with Elbert’s Nathan Lammers.
Still, the victory in goats was more than enough for her, she said, especially given the progress she’s made over the season.
“I got my ties really consistent, and it was just overall a super good weekend in goat tying,” she said.
Knez said she’ll be honing her rodeo skills all the more in the coming weeks as she prepares for the national rounds.
“I expect I’m gonna do pretty good. Honestly, I just want to turn out and get my name in there in the top 10,” she said.
Fellow Moffat County junior high competitors also had strong points throughout the weekend, including Maybell’s Cactus Barnes winning Sunday’s team roping with partner Klay Staudt, of Nathrop, though the duo had trouble recording a time in the short go Monday, ending the season ranked sixth.
Jolene Rhyne had a heartbreaker Monday in the ribbon roping. While teammate Capp Biggerstaff, of Glade Park, quickly got the calf in position, Rhyne snatched the ribbon off the animal’s tail before he had it fully ready, disqualifying them.
Rhyne also placed fifth Sunday in pole bending, but she ended the year in 10th place as the recipient of a surge of rain Monday kept her from claiming any points in the short go.
Like Knez, Rhyne had her best finish in goats, including reserve champion during Sunday’s action.
“My goat runs, they improved a lot. I got one of the fastest times I ever had,” she said. “I made some small mistakes here and there, but it just gives me something to work for next year.”
It was one of the longest days Moffat County High School volleyball players have experienced this season, but by the end of Saturday, the effort was worth it all.