Going to nationals, naturally: Northwest Colorado rodeo wins multiple state titles
For members of the Moffat County High School rodeo team, making it to the highest levels is nothing new, but that doesn’t make their accomplishments this spring any less noteworthy.
Northwest Colorado athletes were in fine form during Memorial Day weekend at the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association state finals in Lamar, capturing multiple top honors.
Craig siblings Kasen and Kinlie Brennise each ended the regular season with a belt buckle and saddle signifying first-place distinctions.
For Kasen, it was a championship finish in the tie-down roping event, one in which he was likely to place in the top four to qualify for the national competition in July in Gillette, Wyoming, though he had his sights set higher.
Placing first and second in respective rounds at state put him ahead in overall points just beyond two of the season’s contenders, Yuma’s Chadron Coffield and Loveland’s Tyler Boxleitner.
“It was a tight race,” Kasen said. “Tyler was leading it all season, and it all came down to the short round.
Meanwhile, his sister’s tireless efforts in multiple events earned her a massive lead in the All-Around Cowgirl honors. That alone doesn’t send her to the next level, but she nonetheless punched her ticket to nationals with third in barrel racing, fourth in goat tying and nearly making it at fifth in breakaway roping.
However, she’ll certainly still be using her lasso again this summer, as she and Kasen placed fourth in team roping to make it to nationals, the first time the pair has made it to the high school level side by side.
“Just qualifying is a really big deal,” Kinlie said.
Also competing on behalf of MCHS in Lamar was Hayden’s Kaitlynn Hayes, who made it as far as the short round in goat tying but didn’t quite have the point tally to advance.
Another Routt County high school athlete will be going to the national arena, with Yampa’s Jace Logan nailing a state title in steer wrestling.
At the junior level, Hayden’s Keenan Hayes stayed atop the rankings in the bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback steer events to win first-place buckles, also making the cut at third place for chute dogging to head to the middle school national finals, starting June 18 in Lebanon, Tennessee.
He’ll be joined by Yampa’s Kody Logan, who finished the season third in the boys breakaway.
Though he had a strong performance at state, third in both rounds of the chute dogging, Craig’s John Harding ended the year ranked 10th in overall points.
Having already earned national accolades in the past year, Keenan said he is feeling confident though cautious about the event in Tennessee.
“I feel good about bareback and saddle bronc, but bulls and chute dogging I think I’ll have to work pretty hard at,” he said. “There’s a lot of fast times in chute dogging and bulls are ranked there.”
The season has only begun for many of the competitors.
Earlier this year, the Brennises joined Texas’s Bloomer Trailers rodeo team, a sponsor for whom they’ll be competing in Gillette and later this summer at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
“It’s pretty awesome, it makes you feel more confident about yourself, they support you a lot,” Kasen said.