Moffat, Routt competitors ride hard, rope smart at national rodeo events
July 26, 2018
The summer has been hectic but rewarding for Northwest Colorado rodeo athletes.
Among the many roping and riding events in which Moffat and Routt county competitors have hit throughout the warmer months was the National High School Finals Rodeo July 15 to 21 in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
The best results were for Hayden’s Keenan Hayes, who ended the week-long gathering as the reserve national champion in bareback riding, just four points short of winning the average after tying for first place in the opening round, second in the next go and fourth in the finals.
Also earning fifth in the bull riding average, Hayes had a massive points count that landed him All-Around Rookie Cowboy and was second in the All-Around Cowboy rankings. Hayes also finished the spring season as the state champion in bareback and saddle bronc and reserve champ in bulls.
Yampa’s Jace Logan picked up fifth place in the second round of steer wrestling, while Craig’s Amber Salazar, who qualified for nationals in the Wyoming circuit, stayed strong in the pole bending event despite both missing the final go.
A high point tally in the high school season kept Craig’s Kasen Brennise on the short list for the tie-down roping at nationals despite an accident during the state finals in his home arena, though his time in Rock Springs was tricky still, as he was unable to record a time in the event.
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Sister Kinlie Brennise placed as high as 20th in the second round of barrel racing but struggled to post a time in breakaway roping, the state reserve champion in both events.
The Brennises also competed in the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma the week before, with Kinlie snagging more than $1,400 and tying for third in the second go for breakaway, just missing an opportunity to win a $5,000 prize.
Hayes also cashed in at IFYR, winning the opening round of the bareback, fourth in the second round and tying for second in the final go, picking up more than $1,200 in the process.
A summer schedule full of raucous rodeo, the Brennises also hit The Best of the Best in Gallup, New Mexico, with Kinlie winning $750 for the opener of breakaway and Kasen and mother Sheila placing third in the average for the parent-child team roping event.
Kasen, who graduated from Moffat County High School this May, will compete in the sport this fall at Texas’s Weatherford College, where Kinlie also plans to attend when she completes her time at MCHS in 2019.
As for the future high school rodeo stars of Craig, siblings Pepper and Jolene Rhyne also hit the big-time competition at the National Little Britches Finals Rodeo July 9 to 15 in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Following a championship in the boys junior flag racing last summer, Pepper took on a multitude of events at the finals, his best results in the average coming from a seventh-place finish in team roping with partner Trevor Hartshorn, of South Dakota. Pepper also paired with his sister in the ribbon roping to take 19th.
Individually, Pepper was 11th in the junior boys goat tying, while Jolene was 55th among 157 in the girls event, as well as 44th in the trail course.
The season for Colorado High School Rodeo Association’s high school and junior high events — including Moffat and Routt athletes — will begin Aug. 25 and 26 in Eagle.