Moffat County shows strength at high school and junior high rodeo | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County shows strength at high school and junior high rodeo

Sasha Nelson/For the Craig Daily Press

Moffat County Rodeo team members hang out at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, including Kinlie Brennise, left, Trent Vernon, Cutter Barnes, Denton Taylor and Kasen Brennise. Not pictured are Eric Logan, Samantha Pearce, Dusty Taylor and Miranda Hammer.

— The Colorado State High School Rodeo Association and Colorado Junior High Rodeo Association rodeo series held its second and third rodeos of the year in Craig this past weekend.

The Rodeo Associations work to promote high school and junior high rodeo in Colorado by bringing statewide recognition to the sport of rodeo.

Students competed in bareback riding, pole bending, chute dogging, steer wrestling, girls breakaway, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, ribbon roping, goat tying, barrel racing and bull riding.

Moffat County was well represented by one junior high rider and seven high school riders.

"I am a senior at Moffat County High School in Craig, and I compete in calf roping and team roping," Denton Taylor said. "Rodeo has paved my way for a much brighter future."

To compete in the circuit, students must be enrolled in school and meet scholastic eligibility requirements.

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"The greatest challenge about rodeo is balancing school and practice with school as my No. 1 priority," said Kinlie Brennise, the only junior high school rider from Moffat County.

"We practice year round," her older brother Kasen Brennise said. "During the school year, we always cut practice short by whatever time we need to complete our homework."

Their dedication and four to five hours of practice per day makes the brother-sister team one to watch.

"The year is going great though it is just the beginning of the season," Kinlie said.

She's currently the state's top barrel racer, second in girl's breakaway and ribbon roping, fourth in girls goat tying, sixth with her partner Braxton Morgan, of Avondale, in team roping, ninth in pole bending and second in the all-around cowgirl competition.

"I'm proud of my sister," Kasen said.

Kasen has a lot to be proud of himself as, in his freshman year, he already is ranked 14th in the all-around cowboy competition at the high school level. He is eighth in team roping with his partner and Moffat County Rodeo teammate Cutter Barns, of Maybell, and 12th in the tie-down roping competition.

"I love the fun of it," he said.

The top four contestants in each event qualify to compete in the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo held in June and the National High School Finals Rodeo held in July, which boasts more than 2,500 contestants competing for national titles, awards and scholarships.

"We have a strong team this year," Kasen said. "It's inspiring to go to the state finals and see the top three to five place getters are all from Moffat County."

Competing successfully in rodeo requires that students have a rodeo family supporting them every step of the way. Seniors like Denton Taylor have a lot of people to thank for seeing him through his final year at this level of rodeo.

He was granted the opportunity to do just that in this year's rodeo program.

"I really appreciate all the support and help from all my rodeo families and those who have believed in me along the way," Taylor said.

In addition to his family and the Barnes and Vernon families, who also have Moffat County Rodeo team members, Denton took the time to thank community members.

"Wendy McKee for giving me a place to practice and Gary Rodarmel for always having steers for me to rope," he said.

The generosity of the extended Moffat County Rodeo family was particularly evident as they helped support Kiowa teenager and rodeo rider Faith Hoffman.

"I had to put down my barrel horse," she said.

The loss of her horse on the eve of this weekend's rodeo represents the loss of a highly trained athletic partner and animal friend. Despite her sadness and lack of a mount, Faith was able to compete at this weekend's rodeo when other families provided her with horses to ride.

"This rodeo family is amazing, and it is healing to the heart to be here," Hoffman said.

The strength of the competition among this young group of rodeo riders was matched only by the strength of their hearts. The trials and triumphs of the 2014-15 series will continue in Grand Junction on Sept. 20 before moving to Elizabeth on Sept. 27.