Super Saturday! the cap to MHSRA finals
A week jam-packed with Montana High School Rodeo Association State Finals events conclude June 9 at the Fallon County Fairgrounds in Baker, Montana, with Super Saturday! MHSRA’s State Finals short go will precede Montana’s first PRCA Extreme Broncs.
State Finals week begins Monday, June 4 and Tuesday, June 5 with the rodeo queen competition and cutting and working cow horse Tuesday, June 5 and Wednesday, June 6.
The remainder of the events–goat tying, steer wrestling, bareback riding, pole bending, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, breakaway roping, team roping, barrel racing, and bull riding–will have long rounds Thursday, June 7 and Friday, June 8. The short go will be at noon Saturday, June 9. Cowboy Prom will be Thursday evening.
“When the kids get here, and for some of them, it’s a long way to get across the state to get to Baker, we try to make it the best state finals for them,” said MHSRA State Finals chairman Eddie Coulter. Coulter is also the producer of PRCA Extreme Broncs, which will be at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Students may participate in shooting events Wednesday evening, featuring 22 and shotgun categories.
Throughout the week, seniors may interview for potential scholarships. “At the awards presentation, we’ll tell the kids who will receive the scholarships,” said MHSRA State Secretary Laurie Harrell. “There are some smaller scholarships some people will give out at the same time that have already been decided.”
Senior Wyatt Gaskins, who is competing in his fourth year of MHSRA State Finals, will be amongst the students vying for scholarships, specifically the Montana Hall and Wall of Fame scholarship.
“I’m sure pretty proud of him,” Wyatt’s dad Bill said. “He has done a pretty good job in his high school career. He’s going to be moving on to rope calves at Odessa College in Texas. He’s studying business; actually, he’s probably going to study calf roping.”
Wyatt is competing in tie down roping and team roping this year, but in past finals, he finished second in the average for cutting last year, and fourth in the average as a freshman in reined cow horse.
Wyatt will also interview for the scholarship offered by Tobacco Free, an organization that strives to make rodeos and other areas just as their name implies: tobacco free.
“They give a lot of nice prizes and a ton of cool stuff,” Wyatt said. “I think it’s a great thing. It has had an effect on some adults. I’ve seen some people quit that used to chew a lot.”
His father is one of those people who has enacted change due to Tobacco Free.
“Thanks to my son, I have quit chewing due to the program,” Bill said. “It’s just an outstanding deal that they do. They’re so supportive of the kids.”
Students are encouraged to wear red during the long go Friday for Tobacco Free day and sign pledges that they are tobacco free.
While Wyatt’s high school career has finished, Bill’s will continue with Wyatt’s little brother Payton’s career in two years. Wyatt’s first year competing in finals was in Kalispell, Montana, before the finals were moved to Baker.
“It gives high school kids a chance to stick around and see and learn from professionals,” Coulter said of PRCA Extreme Broncs. “We’re basically doing it as entertainment and a celebration of the third year of hosting Montana High School Finals in Baker.”
While the arena and chutes are still set up, the jumbotron plugged in, and folks already in town, the PRCA Extreme Bronc match will commence at 7 p.m. with 40 cowboys throwing their hat in the long go, including Brody Cress, currently second in the nation; Isaac Diaz, currently ranked number three in the nation; and JJ Elshere, standing in the 10th position.
“With it being a PRCA-sanctioned event, we have some of the best riders in the world coming,” Coulter said. “It’s going to intrigue any saddle bronc fan in western North Dakota and South Dakota, northern Wyoming, and eastern Montana.”
After an intermission and kids boot race, the short go bronc riders, the top eight from the long go, will be auctioned in a calcutta, which pays 85 percent to the buyers of the first, second, and third place bronc riders.
Saddle bronc riders will attempt to make eight aboard C5 Rodeo and Brookman Rodeo broncs to earn a piece of the $10,000 added.
“The caliber of horse is going to be very strong. They’ve been to the National Finals Rodeo, College Finals Rodeo, and are the top young horses coming up,” Coulter said. “They going to be a pretty strong field of horses. The short round horses are pretty rank; they’re going to have to cowboy up if they make it to the short round.”
An all-day pass is $15 for adults, which gets a ticket into both the short go of finals and the Extreme Broncs match. Those 17 and younger get free entrance.
“Baker is a small town of 1,200 people, and everyone jumps in and supports events like this,” Coulter said. “It’s pretty cool we get as many sponsors as we do, not just Baker, but surrounding towns. We’re excited to host Extreme Broncs, it being the first Montana one.”