Over 1,500 athletes from across the U.S., Canada and Australia gathered in Rock Springs, WY, July 15-21 to compete for top honors at the 2012 National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR). Following two rounds of competition, the top 20 contestants in each event returned on Saturday, July 21, for the short round, and champions were lauded after three rounds of competition.
Among those champions were Highmore, SD-native Drew Cowan, who took top honors in tie-down roping, and was named 4th place All-Around Cowboy.
“I ended up second in the first round, and after that I kind of knew I had it going my way. Then, I ended up second in the second round, and then I really knew I had it going my way, and when it was over I had won the calf roping,” Cowan said of his performance.
No stranger at the NHSFR, Cowan has qualified the last four years – four years in men’s cutting and two years in calf roping.
“The cutting deal at the national level is pretty tough,” Cowan said, who placed 17th in the event this year. “But last year I ended up third in the nation in the calf roping, so I knew what to expect coming back this year. I made it a goal to do better than I did last year, and practiced a lot. I ended up winning the calf roping and the all-around title in South Dakota this year, and from then on I just practiced harder, and I knew I could do it.”
Cowan’s family has a long history in the sport of rodeo, and credits mentor Rick Greiner, two older brothers and his father for helping him to succeed.
“They have all helped me out a lot. My oldest brother let me borrow the horse I won it on,” he said.
Pavillion, WY athlete Teal Stoll also comes from a long-time rodeo family, and credits much of her current success to the support she receives from her parents.
“I get a lot of support and help from my parents, who also coach me. I also can’t say enough how blessed I am to end up with both the horses I have. We got my pole horse when he was 3, my mom and I trained him, and he’s 10 now, so this has been seven years in the making and is definitely very rewarding to realize you have trained that caliber of horse,” Stoll stated.
She rode her horse to a second overall placing in pole bending at the 2012 NHSFR.
“You have 175 of the toughest girls in the nation, Canada and Australia – from everywhere, and you get to compete at that level. My goal going in was to make it to the short round, and the competition was really tough but I had a solid first couple runs. We’d all been waiting for 19-second runs all week, and when the short round came along, I think all the girls in the top six were in the 19s. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that tough,” Stoll said about the competition.
Last year Stoll made the Finals in barrels, and while she liked competing Gillette, Rock Springs was a nice location for her as well.
“We got a little shower, and most days hardly broke 80 degrees. It was so nice and cool. I don’t know if it’s always like that, but it was that week and was very nice,” she noted.
“I think I liked Gillette better,” Cowan added. “Things were much more spread out in Rock Springs. From the cutting barn to the stalls the campground was all a lot farther apart than it was at Gillette.”
Both agree that regardless of the location, the quality of the rodeo remained excellent.
“They always do a great job and get the best people they can to put on what is a great rodeo, and this year was the same way,” Cowan stated.
“I just like the sport so much because it’s so different – we’re all more of a family. It’s a competition, but everyone is also very close. You’re never going to be left out without a horse or anything because someone will make sure you have what you need,” Stoll said.
She hopes to qualify for the 2013 NHSFR as a senior, and wants to rodeo in college, where her plans include general studies followed by an equine rehabilitation and therapy field of study. Being home schooled is a big benefit to rodeoing for Stoll, who also shows steers in 4-H.
Cowan’s future plans are to take a break from rodeo while attending college at Lake Area Tech in Watertown, SD, where he will study ag production. In high school Cowan played football, worked on his family’s operation and rodeoed. While he enjoys the sport of rodeo, taking a break to concentrate on college studies is also something he’s looking forward too.F
n Over 1,500 athletes from across the U.S., Canada and Australia gathered in Rock Springs, WY, July 15-21 to compete for top honors at the 2012 National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR).