GUTHRIE, Oklahoma — Thankfully, the cowgirls came up big for Team Nevada.
At the National High School Finals Rodeo, the girls team ranked seventh overall — scoring 2,528.33 points — far exceeding the 25th-place boys and their 426 points.
Overall, Nevada finished 13th in the team standings.
Leading the way was Pioche’s Wylee Mitchell, who placed third in the average of the barrel racing with a three-run total of 46.707 seconds — finishing the final round in the same place as she entered it.
Mitchell’s best run came in the second round, stopping the clock in a second-place time of 15.384 seconds.
She opened the rodeo with a seventh-place 15.665 in round one and closed with a 10th-place time of 15.839 in the top-20 short round. While Mitchell ranked third in the barrel racing, her mount went out in the No. 1 spot.
“Smokey Gold Jack” won the AQHA Girls Horse of the Year honor with 620 points.
Fernley’s Grace Felton roped sharp, fast and consistent — notching a fourth-place finish in the breakaway roping.
Remarkably, all three of Felton’s runs were separated by just four-hundredths of a second.
Her longest time came in the first round — catching her calf in 2.74 seconds for 10th place — but she bested the run slightly with a time of 2.73 seconds in round two for a 16th-place finish.
She entered the final round in fifth place and jumped up a spot.
In the short-go, Felton snagged her fastest catch of the NHSFR — booking a time of 2.7 seconds for fourth place.
Like her finish in the final round, Felton also captured fourth in the three-head average with a total time of 8.17 seconds.
The defending national champion — Fallon’s Ali Norcutt — made a solid push toward a repeat in the reined cow horse competition.
She had to make a comeback after a 20th-place score of 280 points in the first round, but Norcutt bounced back with two solid runs in the second round and the short-go, tying for seventh on each pattern. In round two, she tallied her best score of three rounds with 288.5 points — finishing with a 286 in the top-20 round.
Overall, she scored 854.5 points and climbed to seventh in the average.
Cade Bell and Jayce Blake
Paradise Valley’s Cade Bell qualified for the short-go in multiple events.
In the saddle bronc riding, Bell covered his first scored but scored just 52 points for 18th place.
On his second horse, Bell increased his tally by a dozen points for a ninth-place mark of 64.
With a two-horse total of 116 points, he entered the final round in ninth place — where he finished in the average after a no-score in the short-go.
Bell also reached the top-20 round in the team roping, heeling for Reno partner Jayce Blake.
The duo made a clean run in the first round and placed 24th with a time of 8.57 seconds — the team’s fastest run of the rodeo — following with a time of 12.34 seconds for a one-leg penalty in round two.
Entering the final round with a two-run time of 20.91 seconds for 16th place, Blake and Bell moved up one spot — despite a long run of 27.89 seconds in the short-go — finishing 15th in the average with a three-steer total of 48.8 seconds.
One of Bell’s horses — Be Cade’s Kat — finished seventh in the AQHA Boys Horse of the Year standings with 130 points.
Fallon’s Chloe Lambert ranked 14th in the goat tying with a three-run total of 25.84 seconds.
She opened the rodeo with a first-round time of 8.31 seconds for 27th place and followed with her fastest run on a sub-eight effort of 7.93 seconds for 14th place in round two.
Lambert entered the final round in 11th place with a two-goat total of 16.24 seconds but fell three spots in the average with a final run of 9.6 seconds for 14th in the top-20 short-go.
Blake just missed the short-go in the goat tying with a two-run tally of 17.94 seconds — finishing 27th in the average — her best run coming on an 8.57-second time in round two for 25th place.
From arena events to a platform with no horse and without riding, Joy Hatch placed 18th overall in the light rifle competition.
She shot her way to 13th place in the long round with a total score of 311 points, but Hatch’s total score dropped to a 303 in the short-go and moved her to 18th place in the average with a two-round total of 614 points.
Lamoille’s Syerra Silva topped the field of all newcomers and was named the All-Around Rookie Cowgirl with 160 points — second place tied two ways with 75 points each.
Silva did her best work in the pole bending, qualifying for the final round in 19th place with a two-run total of 41.227 seconds.
Her fastest run came in the first round with a 13th-place 20.495, and she followed with a 43rd-place time of 20.732 in round two.
However, she clipped a pole in the short-go, which resulted in a time of 25.76 with the five-second penalty.
Despite the setback, she still managed to jump up a spot in the standings to 18th in the average with a three-pattern time of 66.987 seconds.
She also placed 22nd in the second round of the barrel racing with a time of 15.839 seconds.
Freshman Tylie Norcutt is already taking after her older sister — the 2019 national champ — and from her renowned horse-trainer dad, Darrel Norcutt.
The youngster broke out a big score in the first round of the reined cow horse, ranking fifth with a total of 287.5 points.
In round two, her score fell to a 273 for 40th place —posting a 271 in the short-go for 17th place.
With a three-work tally of 831.5 points, she finished 18th in the average.
Another Nevada newcomer showed both immediate impacts and future promise as well, Logandale’s Rilee Christensen ranking fifth in the All-Around Rookie Cowgirl race with 35 points.
She finished 16th place in the second round of the girls cutting with a score of 143 points and was 10 spots away from qualifying for the top-20 final round with a two-herd work of 277 points for 30th place in the average.
Christensen — heading for brother Cole Christensen — placed 22nd in the first round of the team roping with a clean run of 8.47 seconds.
Logandale’s Trinity Scronce — Nevada’s ambassador of the sport — notched a top-20 overall finish in the Queen Contest.
Scronce tied for 14th place in the horsemanship, ranked 17th with her impromptu speech, tied for 17th on her prepared speech, split 19th in appearance, was 20th in modeling, 21st for her personal interview and was 24th in personality.
Notable Round Finishes
While the first-round run of Fallon’s Tayler Felton resulted in a no-time in the breakaway roping, her second-round loop came tight just before the calf ran through it — notching the second-fastest run of the entire week.
She laced a time of 1.97 seconds for the round win.
Alamo’s Troy Bundy II clocked in at 5.03 seconds on his first run in the steer wrestling — placing 16th in the round — but he took a no-time in the second round.
Wellington header JoseyRay Funk and Las Vegas heeler Garrett Jepson started the team roping with a bang and made a smooth run of 7.85 seconds for 18th place in round one, but a no-time in round two ended hopes of a call-back to the short-go.
Fernley’s Daunte Ceresola tied for 19th place in the second round of the boys cutting with a score of 141 points and posted a total of 140 for a 28th-place tie in round one, but his two-herd tally of 281 points was three places shy of a trip to the final round — splitting 23rd in the average.
Ceresola also ranked in the top-30 of the reining with a two-pattern total of 553 points for 29th place in the average, his best run coming on a 28th-place score of 277.5 in the first round.
Like Ceresola in the boys cutting, Battle Mountain’s Emma Lemaire finished three positions back of a third work in the girls cutting.
With matching marks of 140 points — 35th in the first round and 28th in the second — Lemaire tied for 23rd in the average with a two-herd score of 280 points.
Congratulations to Wylee Mitchell on her horse of the year award, her third-place finish in the barrel racing, Grace Felton for her fourth-place roping in the breakaway, Syerra Silva on her All-Around Rookie Cowgirl, to all competitors who placed in the average and high up in the go-rounds of the National High School Finals Rodeo and to all qualifiers of the biggest stage high school rodeo has to offer.
Thank you to the Lazy E Arena committee, staff and volunteers for picking up the pieces left by COVID-19 and facility and state cancelations and kudos to the Guthrie, Oklahoma, community for giving the deserving kids and their families an end to something they all worked so hard to achieve — accommodating 1,404 contestants across 1,812 entries which required 1,680 horse stalls and 950 campers.
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