Logan Durham, Katie Jo Knez represent Moffat County well at Junior High National Finals Rodeo
Whether atop a bucking bull or subduing a wily goat, young Moffat County rodeo athletes showed their strengths at one of the top competitions in the country in the past week.
The Junior High National Finals Rodeo saw solid showings for Craig’s Katie Jo Knez and Hamilton’s Logan Durham, both of whom were part of the action June 23 to 29 in Huron, South Dakota after claiming state championships in May.
Durham, the top middle school bull rider in Colorado who enters seventh-grade this fall, was among the very first wave of competitors in the opening night, staying seated well past the eight-second minimum for bulls, ultimately achieving a score of 67 to tie at sixth for the night, 19th overall in the first go round.
Though the scope of the event was much bigger, he said he was confident in his abilities to handle the animal the same as those back in Colorado.
“It wasn’t really any different than the bulls I’ve gotten before,” he said.
Knez, going into eighth-grade this fall, likewise rocked in her opening round at nationals the following morning.
“I was very proud of myself with my first round run,” Knez said. “Before going through the gate I was very nervous, yet confident about my run. Everything went really smooth.”
Knez was right on top of her bleating quarry, getting the goat on its back and roped up for a time of 8.35 seconds, befitting her state title she won at home Memorial Day weekend, which she also detailed for Colorado Public Radio listeners.
With several days of down time for both the Moffat County kids, the two weren’t hurting for entertainment with a wide array of shopping, trade shows, a volleyball tournament between entrants from different states, dances, field day, water balloon fights, jackpots, and mingling with other rodeo contenders their age.
“I definitely didn’t get bored,” Knez said.
However, the two Northwest Colorado athletes had a rougher time in the second go round, as Knez — who was second in her Monday round and seventh altogether in the first go — ultimately took a no-time and Durham was unable to maintain a qualifying ride.
Durham said he shifted forward at the wrong moment and knocked heads with the bull. Luckily he was wearing a helmet to avoid any significant injury to his noggin, nothing new for someone who also spends winters between fall and spring rodeo playing hockey.
“He kind of dazed me,” he said. “It was just momentary.”
After being at nationals and picking up state belt buckles, both are feeling confident with their rodeo futures.
“It was all pretty thrilling,” Durham said.
More Northwest Colorado rodeo action is in store this month as the National High School Rodeo Association finals take place closer to home July 14 to 20 at Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which will see state breakaway roping champ Kinlie Brennise and bull rider Dillon Burch, both of Craig, as well as Hayden’s Keenan Hayes and Yampa’s Jace Logan in the arena.
The Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction.