Mom win: Rayhill Clinches College All-Around Title while chasing a toddler

Silva Gotschall turns 14 months old this week, and her mom, Karissa Rayhill, just won the “triple crown” in the Central Rocky Mountain Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association: barrel racing, goat tying, and the all around. What’s more, Silva’s dad, Brock Gotschall, proposed to Rayhill during the awards ceremony.

Speechless at the time, Rayhill has now had the chance to let the news settle that she won the region three times over, and is now the future Mrs. Gotschall. “I was completely shocked, but apparently everybody else knew. I knew it was going to happen eventually, I just wasn’t expecting it then,” she says.

Winning the goat tying title, though, was no surprise. Rayhill, who wears the yellow and black vest for Eastern Wyoming College, has dominated the event not just in the region but in the entire nation. She finished the season with 910 points–315 points ahead of second place. A couple of goat tiers passed her in the national ranks this spring, but all will begin with a clean slate when it comes to the College National Finals Rodeo, June 12–June 18, 2022 in Casper, Wyoming, to which she is no stranger. This will be Rayhill’s third appearance and fourth qualification (2020 saw no CNFR due to Covid).

The barrel racing came down to the final rodeo of the season, hosted by the University of Wyoming in Laramie on Apr. 22-24. Rayhill edged out Gillette College’s Ellie Bard with her two stellar runs on the weekend, capturing the title. “Vegas” is the tall, gray horse that she has been running in barrel racing for several years. Rayhill says, “That horse is so deserving of that. I’m just so thankful that we were able to go ahead and win it. He deserves it–not so much me, but him.” To his credit, Vegas was also the horse Rayhill used to qualify her to the CNFR goat tying short round in 2019 when her good horse died of cancer, proving that he is competitive in all things.

Raised by Jennifer Carlson of Chappell, Nebraska, the Rayhill family paid just $1,000 for him at the Fall Extravaganza Sale in Philip as a two year old. Now, he is priceless. “There won’t be another one like him in my life, I’m pretty certain,” she says.

Rayhill finished the women’s all around race with double the points of the next competitor. To do all that she has done, she recognizes that it takes a great support system. Her fiancé, Brock, has been “amazing” and helps Rayhill whenever he is not working on the pipeline. Rayhill’s maternal grandparents also live in Torrington and watch Silva. Whenever she travels to rodeos, both her parents and Gotschall’s parents come to support, not to mention Rayhill’s rodeo friends. “I am so grateful to have all of them be able to be there […] The rodeo family is just so incredible and there’s so many helpful people. I thank all of them so much” she says.

Rayhill was also honored as the region’s recipient of the Walt Garrison Top Hand Award, given to a student athlete for “loyalty, determination, integrity and leadership.” Of the 11 regions who nominate one student, one is chosen as the overall winner at the CNFR.

For Rayhill, her daughter Silva is “the best thing that could have happened” to her. Still, it was a challenge to regain her former athleticism. “I spent the summer sucking before the [college rodeo] season came up. My body just wasn’t as strong. I had to build a lot of strength. I spent a lot of time going to the gym and doing workouts at home. I placed here and there, but not like I was used to and that was really a hard thing for me, but it also made me stronger and fueled the fire,” she said. But regain it she did, as evidenced by her personal best season of college rodeo.

Rayhill has another year left of eligibility, but has not decided whether or not she will continue college rodeoing. In the meantime, she will continue to be a mother to Silva, finish her business degree, and help her fiancé build his business, BG Welding. “Glory to God, thanks be to God,” she says. “It’s all in His timing.”

Other area CNFR qualifiers include:

Men’s Teams: University of Wyoming, Casper College

Women’s Teams: University of Wyoming; Gillette College

Men’s All Around: Brice Patterson – Bozeman, Montana

Women’s All Around: Karissa Rayhill – Martin, South Dakota

Saddle Bronc:

3. Sage Miller – Springview, Nebraska

Bareback Riding:

1. Brice Patterson – Bozeman, Montana

2. Donny Proffit – Kemmerer, Wyoming

3. Myles Carlson – Evanston, Wyoming

Tie-Down Roping:

2. Myles Kenzy – Iona, South Dakota

3. Linkyn Petersek – Colome, South Dakota

Steer Wrestling:

1. Austin Hurlburt – Norfolk, Nebraska

2. Cameron Jensen – Hyannis, Nebraska

3. Bernard Girard – Alliance, Nebraska

Team Roping Header:

1. Kellan Johnson – Casper, Wyoming

2. Nevada Berquist – Watford City, North Dakota

3. Bodie Mattson – Sturgis, South Dakota

Team Roping Heeler:

1. Carson Johnson – Casper, Wyoming

Barrel Racing:

1. Karissa Rayhill – Martin, South Dakota

2. Ellie Bard – Sheridan, Wyoming

3. Kady Locke – Casper, Wyoming

Breakaway Roping:

2. Emily Knust – Burwell, Nebraska

Goat Tying:

1. Karissa Rayhill – Martin, South Dakota

Rayhill’s daughter, Silva, and her now-fiancé, Brock Gotschall, were her two biggest fans throughout the fall and spring season. Gotschall proposed during the awards ceremony. Courtesy photo
Vegas is not only the regional champion barrel horse this year, but he also helped Rayhill make the short round of the CNFR in 2019. Photo by Dan Hubbell.

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