Nebraska’s Miller, Stevens shine at National High School Rodeo Finals
The National High School Finals Rodeo wrapped up last Thursday evening with the short round performance, where world champions were crowned. The Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma, hosted the event when the original location of Lincoln, Nebraska declined. Though the weekly schedule and indoor nature of the rodeo varied from “normal,” student athletes were grateful to be able to have their finals. “I was just glad the Lazy E picked it up. I was just happy to get to go somewhere,” said Sage Miller of Springview, Nebraska.
Miller, who is a four-time state champion bronc rider, spurred his way to a Reserve National Championship buckle last week with an accumulative score of 197 on three head.
Accustomed to the rigors of ranch work at home, Miller said the biggest challenge of the week was staying in shape and “waiting to get on the next one.” His family runs a ranch and takes in around 600 mother cows. He spent much of his time in Guthrie with family and watched every single performance to study the horses.
Competing at the NHSFR is old hat for him, so nerves did not affect Miller when he qualified to the short round sitting in fifth place. “I drew a nice horse of Summit’s and I made a good enough ride to make it to the top,” he said. The final bronc rider of the night, Cable Wareham of Kansas, nudged him out of first place.
He started his career by riding steers in Junior High Rodeo. He used Brett McAbee’s saddle until his freshman year of high school. “He helped me a lot,” he said. Some of Miller’s other mentors include Brad McCully, Kyle Whitaker, and Derek Kenner.
Miller plans to attend Laramie County Community College this fall to study welding and college rodeo.
Another Reserve World Champion title went to Creighton, Nebraska’s Jessica Stevens in the goat tying. Stevens got faster all week, with a 7.7 in the first round. 7.4 in the second, and 7.1 in the short round. Her consistency may have been a product of mental preparation and reflection: “I was trying to fix all the mistakes during practice and had a lot of people watching my runs and telling me how to get better. I had a great support system behind me,” she said.
Shaylee Hance, head rodeo coach at Dawson Community College in Glendive, Montana, offered Stevens some advice before her week began: “She just said make a fun, clean run. I kind of just stuck with those words: ‘Go have fun.’” Once the first run was out of the way, Stevens had momentum. “For my second round, I just let God make my run. I was a 7.4 and fell down,” she said. Despite the bobble, she ended up third in the round and gave credit to her horse, who remained solid all week.
Stevens joked that her favorite part of being in Guthrie was going to Sonic, but adds: “I love being out at Guthrie and the Lazy E. We have friends from North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, and all over, so we just kind of traveled around to their camps and hung out with all my friends I haven’t seen in forever. Being here for high school was way different than for Little Britches. Everyone was hyped up, everybody was supporting each other. That was just the atmosphere of it,” she said.
For the remainder of the summer, Stevens plans to continue practicing, entering jackpots, and working several jobs, including helping with her family’s custom cutting business. Stevens will be a senior this year and is considering several different colleges with rodeo programs.
A young athlete with deep bronc riding roots placed fourth overall in the classic event: Malcolm Heathershaw from Quinn, South Dakota.
The tiny town rolled out its full support for the sophomore in high school, greeting the family with a welcome home sign and party when the family returned home at 10 p.m. last Friday. “I was very thankful for them being there supporting me,” Heathershaw said.
The next morning, he was entered in the 4-H rodeo at New Underwood and won the bronc riding there, too. As it happens, Heathershaw gets on horses at that arena on a regular basis, thanks to local professional bronc riders. “Every wednesday night, Louis Brunson has practices in New Underwood. He’s been a big help to myself and all the other bronc riders and bareback riders in the area,” he said. JJ Elshere and Troy Crowser are often in attendance, as well.
“We’re lucky to get good pickup men and stock. It’s a blessing to be able to do that stuff where we do. A lot of people don’t have the chance to go out and get on horses every week. The community has been good to us. They’ve helped and encouraged me a lot,” Heathershaw said.
His favorite part of the finals was the short round. “The short go was a lot of fun. I don’t know how to explain it. It was very exciting–a lot of electricity,” he said. Also qualifying to the short round and placing seventh overall was his teammate, Teigan Clark. “Me and Teigan are really good friends. He’s a good bronc rider and definitely deserves being up there with us,” Heathershaw said.
The Wall High School student plans to continue 4-H and amateur rodeoing for the remainder of the summer while continuing his practice schedule.
Many area athletes from the Tri-State region qualified to the short round, and results can be found below. Go here for full results.
5. (MT) Lacey Lawrence, Jordan, Mont., 46.873
11. (WY) Maddie Fantaskey, Worland, Wyo., 47.283
13. (WY) Ashlyn Goven, Rozet, Wyo., 47.447
16. (ND) Kelly Bang, Killdeer, N.D., 48.159
20. (WY) Rayne Grant, Wheatland, Wyo., 58.1
2. (MT) Sam Petersen, Helena, Mont., 237
7. (NE) Gauge McBride, Kearney, Neb., 221
11. (MT) Kaleb Norstrom, East Helena, Mont., 213
15. (SD) Colton Shelley, Nisland, S.D., 199.5
12. (NE) Cooper Bass, Brewster, Neb., 424
15. (MT) Roan Burrows, Miles City, Mont., 422
15. (SD) Trey Fuller, Faith, S.D., 422
18. (ND) Caydon Roshau, Bismarck, N.D., 418
8. (MT) Haven Wolstein, Helena, Mont., 10.13
10. (NE) Jace Hurlburt, Arcadia, Neb., 10.73
11. (WY) Haiden Thompson, Yoder, Wyo., 11.08
15. (SD) Sawyer Gilbert, Buffalo, S.D., 5.95
7. (NE) Conner Halverson, Gordon, Neb., 77
10. (SD) Riley Shippy, Colome, S.D., 70
18. (MT) Cole Hould, Havre, Mont., 55
Tie Down Roping
(No Local Placings)
17. (NE) Maddie Stump, Elsmere, Neb., 419
19. (SD) Landry Haugen, Sturgis, S.D., 405
2. (NE) Jessica Stevens, Creighton, Neb., 22.56
4. (WY) Kadra Clark, Yoder, Wyo., 23.55
16. (SD) Acelyn Brink, Newell, S.D., 26.76
19. (WY) Haiden Thompson, Yoder, Wyo., 15.22
5. (NE) Madison Mills, Eddyville, Neb., 60.632
9. (MT) Harley Meged, Miles City, Mont., 61.173
2. (NE) Sage Miller, Springview, Neb., 197
4. (SD) Malcom Heathershaw, Quinn, S.D., 195.5
7. (SD) Teigan Clark, Meadow, S.D., 155
11. (WY) Parker Manor, Gillette, Wyo., 130.5
17. (MT) Garrett Cunningham, Broadus, Mont., 100.5
5. (MT) Cole Detton, Great Falls, Mont., 15.53
7. (ND) Justin Inglis, Regan, N.D., 16.05
12. (MT) Jaden Whitman, Belgrade, Mont., 17.36
16. (NE) Parker Johnston, Maywood, Neb., 22.52
19. (NE) Tucker Ravenscroft, Nenzel, Neb., 10.12
11. (NE) Zane Kreikemeier, Callaway, Neb., Coy Johnston, Stapleton, Neb., 38.53
20. (WY) Kolby Bradley, Big Piney, Wyo., Arye Espenscheid, Big Piney, Wyo., 21.5
Reined Cow Horse
13. (NE) Tatum Olson, Bloomfield, Neb., 842
15. (ND) BreAnne Benson, West Fargo, N.D., 839.5
16. (NE) Cadell Brunsch, Chadron, Neb., 837.5
20. (WY) Maddie Fantaskey, Worland, Wyo., 830
ALL AROUND ROOKIE COWGIRL
2-3. (SD) Landry Haugen, Sturgis, S.D., 75.00
AQHA Boys Horse of the Year
5. (ND) HOT SHOTS, Caydon Roshau, ND, 175.00
AQHA Girls Horse of the Year
2. (NE) MR POCO JACK SPRAT, Madison Mills, NE, 500.00
Girls Team Standings
6. WYOMING, 2,575.00
Boys Team Standings
6. NEBRASKA, 3,241.00
10. MONTANA, 2,625.00
8. NEBRASKA, 4,944.57
10. MONTANA, 4,179.28
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