Belle Fourche athlete puts cowboy state on the map |

Belle Fourche athlete puts cowboy state on the map

A Wyoming cowgirl has been featured in Sports Illustrated.

Shayla Howell, of Colony, was included as one of the "Faces in the Crowd" in the September 4 issue of the magazine.

Howell, a senior at Belle Fourche (S.D.) High School, won the Class A track championship last spring in the triple jump, the long jump, the 100-meter dash, and the 200-meter dash.

She pre-qualified in nine events for the state track meet; student athletes are required to choose four of those nine to compete in, and she won all four of her events. She also holds multiple school records at Belle Fourche High School.

“She’s a thinker, and she stands up for what she feels is right. She’s unbelievably focused on whatever she decides to do. She works hard at what she does, and it’s not in her nature to cut corners. She doesn’t do anything halfway. She’s all or nothing, she’s in or out. And if she’s in, you’d better look out.” Shanna Howell, Shayla Howell’s mother

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In the winter, she plays basketball for the Broncs, as a starter on the varsity team and high scorer for many of the games.

And she competes in high school rodeo in the pole bending, barrel racing, breakaway roping and team roping, qualifying for last year's state finals in the poles, barrels and team roping, and finishing seventh in the state in the poles.

Howell, the third of four daughters of Guy and Shanna Howell, helps out with the family operations. They have a "unique situation," Shanna says, with a ranch in Wyoming which is a hunting operation, and a ranch in Powderville, Mont., where Guy was raised, with cattle, hogs, horses, and crops. Shayla and her sisters: Bridget and Brooke, who have graduated high school and are in college, and younger sister Shyanne, who is fourteen, help with the hunters, with cleaning, washing, and cooking, and help with the livestock work in Montana when they are there.

For the past several summers, Shayla has competed in regional rodeo associations, including the South Dakota Rodeo Association last year and the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association this year. She ropes with a friend and team roping partner of her dad's, Bobby Harris, the 1991 PRCA world champion header and an eighteen-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier. Sister Brooke heads for her dad; Shayla heads for Harris; both teams will qualify for mixed team roping at the NRCA finals this fall.

Not only does Shayla do well in the athletic sphere, but she excels in the classroom. She is on the honor roll, a member of the National Honor Society, the math and science club, and 4-H. In her final year of high school, she is taking two college classes for dual credit.

Competitiveness runs through the Howell family, Shayla said. "It's not to the point where it's stupid things (to be competitive about), but we don't go somewhere to lose. We prepare ourselves in the best way possible to do the best we can in that situation."

She credits her parents with her and her sisters' accomplishments. "They provided us with what we needed to get ready. They weren't going to push us to where we didn't want to do it, but they were going to give us the opportunity to do the best we could."

In her spare time, Shayla likes to ride and rope, and this summer, she spent about five days a week on horseback working for Bill and Deb Myers with Myers Performance Horses riding eight to nine horses a day.

She's driven and she's not scared to stand up for what she believes, her mom said. "She's a thinker, and she stands up for what she feels is right. She's unbelievably focused on whatever she decides to do. She works hard at what she does, and it's not in her nature to cut corners. She doesn't do anything halfway. She's all or nothing, she's in or out. And if she's in, you'd better look out."

Shayla has had several offers for collegiate track scholarships but isn't sure where she'll attend college. She will stay close to home, in either Wyoming or South Dakota, and might compete in college rodeo as well.

Shayla was nominated by her uncle for the Sports Illustrated listing.