ROCK SPRINGS, Wyoming — When someone enters the short-go of a rodeo in seventh place, there’s only a few ways to climb to the top.
One: win the final round or close it.
Two: the leaders need to falter.
On Friday, Fallon’s Ali Norcutt took matters in her own hands — along with the help of a trusty steed — and benefited from lower scores from those in front.
Following a fifth-place finish in the 2018 National High School Finals Rodeo as a freshman, the sophomore went to No. 1.
Norcutt won the short-go, riding “Soula Hickory Star,” also known as “Kenny.”
She tied for fourth place in the first round — marking her high score of the rodeo with 290.5 points on Monday morning — but a 286-point run (20th in round two) on Thursday night painted an uphill climb for a bid to win the whole thing.
Mission accomplished anyway.
When Trail Townsend, of Earth, Texas, rode in the arena Friday afternoon, his two-round total of 578 points ranked fifth, Norcutt’s tally of 576.5 a point and a half and two spots behind.
He went to the lead of the average — then tying for first in the short-go with a final-round 287.5 — his three-round total of 865.5 moving to the top.
Lapoint, Utah’s Sydney Davis grabbed the high mark of the short-go with a 288.5; the girl behind her none other than Norcutt.
The lead changed hands twice in two runs, Norcutt needing a 289 for first in the short-go and a 289.5 for the national championship.
She hit the 289.5-point nail right on the head — winning the final round by one point — claiming the grand prize by half of a point with a three-run work of 866 points.
Norcutt has a lot of support from her family, but her horse-trainer dad Darrel and mom Cari were far from being the only people in her corner.
“That was fun. Nevada had the biggest cheering crowd,” Cari Norcutt said. “I thought it was so cool we had so much Nevada support.”
Congratulations to Ali Norcutt for the phenomenal success she has achieved in two-short years during her high school rodeo career, her reined cow horse national championship and for putting the country on blast that the youngster is a force to be reckoned with for quite some time.
The reined cow horse is not the only competition that has already finished at the NHSFR.
Ely’s Colton Harris nearly dead-eyed his aim to a top-10 effort in the trap shoot, tying for 11th three ways.
In a four-round format before the top-10 shoot-off, Harris was on point in the first-three rounds.
He opened with a nearly-perfect score of 24 in rounds one, two and three.
In round four, his score dropped to a 22 — leaving him one point away from the top-10 shootout — Harris splitting 11th with two other competitors, each scoring 94 points and needing 95 for another round.
In the long-rifle shoot, Las Vegas’ Joy Hatch also finished with a top-20 performance.
She shot her way to 18th place in the long-go with an even score of 300 (106 prone, 97 standing and 97 kneeling).
In the short-go, Hatch’s tally fell to a 270 (105 prone, 80 standing and 85 kneeling) for 19th place.
She also ranked 19th in the average with a two-round total of 570 points.
Entering Friday’s night performance of the NHSFR at 7 p.m. MST, Lamoille’s Payton Feyder appeared to have a great chance to qualify for the top-20 final round in two events.
In the team roping, Feyder heading for Reno partner Cashlyn English — the girls placed 29th in the first round with a clean run of 10.41 seconds on Tuesday morning.
On Thursday night, Feyder and English survived a trashy steer — catching two feet once again — the time extending to 11.95 seconds for 18th in the second round after Friday morning’s perf.
In the average, Feyder and English ranked eighth entering Friday night’s performance with a two-head time of 22.36.
In the breakaway roping, Feyder has made a pair of nearly-identical runs.
Running her first calf Monday morning, Feyder stopped the clock in 3.38 seconds — splitting 32nd place in the round — following with a time of 3.47 seconds on Friday morning, placing 31st in the second round with two perfs remaining.
Her two-run time of 6.85 seconds ranked 11th in the average.
Jayce Blake, Cole Christensen
Reno’s Jayce Blake and Logandale’s Cole Christensen should get to fire for a third run in the team roping.
They placed 26th in the first round with a 9.81-second run on Tuesday night.
Blake caught their second steer in about the same fashion, but one leg in Christensen’s heel rope resulted in a five-second penalty Thursday morning for a total time of 15.05.
With a two-steer time of 24.86 seconds, Blake and Christensen were 12th in the average after Friday morning.
Crescent Valley’s Kaylee Filippini is on the edge of making the short-go in the girls cutting.
She tied for 19th in the first round with a 143-point work Tuesday morning and followed up with a score of 140 on Thursday night, also splitting 19th in the second round after Friday morning.
Her two-round total of 283 points ranked 15th in the average with two performances remaining, Filippini needing to avoid falling six spots to remain in the top-20.
Fernley’s Grace Felton is another cowgirl facing a nip-tuck battle for a third run.
In the pole bending, she helped her cause with a time of 20.617 seconds on Thursday morning — which was placing 16th in the second round — but she was half of a second longer Tuesday night and finished 51st in round one with a 21.182.
Entering Friday night’s performance, she was 17th in the average with a two-run total of 41.799 and could only fall three positions in the last-two perfs in order to make a run in the short-go.
Fernley’s Daunte Ceresola will not get a third work in the boys cutting — currently serving as the cut-off to the top-20 after Friday morning — his two-round total of 271 tying for the last berth with two perfs remaining.
He was 27th in the first round with a score of 139 on Tuesday morning, falling to a mark of 132 on Thursday night and tying for 27th once again in round two prior to the last-two perfs.
He did not qualify for the final round in the reined cow horse either, but Ceresola went out with a bang.
After finishing third-from last in the first round with a score of 139.5 points, Ceresola unleashed the sixth-highest score of the entire rodeo.
On Friday morning, he racked up 292 points and finished fourth in the second round.
Battle Mountain’s Riata Goemmer earned a top-20 finish in the second round of the reined cow horse, her score of 286.5 points on Thursday morning splitting 18th place after Friday morning and making a 25.5-point improvement over her total of 261 on Monday night in the first round.
Wells Rodeo Club member and Spring Creek High School graduate Whitney Slack also performed considerably better in the second round.
Slack, the Nevada state champion in the goat tying, was long in the first round with a time of 13.05 seconds.
In round two, her run of 8.45 on Friday morning was good enough for 18th place with two perfs remaining.
Prior to Norcutt’s victory, the Nevada girls ranked 15th with 881 points — surely to receive a large boost from the national champ.
The boys were in 30th place with 265 points — all coming in the second round — the team in 24th overall with 1,056 points.
The 12th and final perf of the cutting will start at 8 a.m. MST on Saturday, the championship following at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Round two of the rodeo events will wrap up after the 12th performance at 9 a.m. Saturday, the top-20 final round running at 7 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, visit nhsra.com/high-school-division/nhsfr-2019-results/.