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High school rodeo bucks into winter break

Hayden Welsh and Raelee Caldwell, both of Gillette, turned in big results in the final fall rodeo of the Wyoming High School rodeo Association series.

The final ride of the 2021 Wyoming High School Rodeo Association fall season wrapped up last week in Big Piney. For Campbell County, there were several solid performances and points collected through the first run of rodeos.

The points earned in the fall will carry over to the bigger portion of the schedule when rodeo resumes in April. When all points are tallied after the state event, that’s when the top four cowboys and cowgirls earn a spot at the National High School Finals Rodeo, which will return to Gillette the next two summers.


Rough stock rider Hayden Welsh of Gillette was spectacular in the final fall rodeo of the season as he landed a score of 73 in bull riding to win the day. (Photo courtesy of Hayden Welsh)

Sunday’s bull riding was all about Gillette. Hayden Welsh was the high performer of the weekend as he rode his way to a score of 78 points. His fantastic finish to the season also included a 73 in his first ride on Saturday.

“It was a great weekend to win both rounds. I caught one day in team roping. It was just a great weekend for me,” said Welsh, who is in 10th grade. “And going into spring, it will be great. I’m so blessed to be able to go to Laramie next spring in first. Praise the Lord.”

Teammate Wyatt Norstegaard bucked his way to a second-place finish on bulls Saturday with an impressive score of 72.

On the boy’s side in the bareback, Roedy Farrell of Thermopolis had a 71 on Saturday to place first and Tuker Carricato of Saratoga had the best effort on Sunday with a 71. Gillette’s Rhyder Stahla also competed in the fall finale.

Jase Longwell of Thermopolis placed first in the saddle bronc on Saturday with a 57 with Colby Smith of Burns taking Sunday’s session with a 49. Gillette’s Colton Wagoner held his own in rough stock as he was second in Saturday’s sessions with a ride of 52 to grab second place.

In tie-down roping, Kolton Miller from Gillette had the best time on Saturday where he had a first-place time of 10.350 seconds, just a blink ahead of Teagan Bentley of Casper at 10.610.

On Sunday, Joseph Hayden unleashed a solid performance as he took third place and was clocked at 11.780 seconds. Miller was just a few spots back in eighth with a 14.390. Also cracking the top 20 locally were Jace Rourke, Hunter Henderson and Talon Larson.

It was a big finale for local cowboys as Jace Rourke, Henderson, and Larson also recorded top 10 times.

Gillette had a couple of solid performances with the guns. In trap shooting, Kolton Miller took first place Saturday with a score of 50, just ahead of Ryan Nunn of Lovall at 47. In light rifle the same day, Peityn Monar had a fifth-place finish and a score of 249.0

In team roping, Gillette’s Joseph Hayden (healer) partnered with Tavy Leno (header) of Sheridan to capture first-place on Sunday with a winning time of 9.010 seconds. An all-Gillette team brought home sixth place when Talon Larson and Jace Rourke stopped the clock at 15.480.


Raelee Caldwell roped a good weekend in Big Piney where the Gillette cowgirl had two top-10 finishes in breakaway roping and was second in goat tying. (Photo courtesy of Raelee Caldwell)

In barrel racing, Yoder’s Haiden Thompson won Saturday’s session with a time of 16.56. On Sunday, not even the star from Yoder could keep up with Gillette’s best as three hometown cowgirls took the top three places.

Jordan Morman of Campbell County came up big on the final day and won the round with a time of 16.56.8 seconds. After her, Sydney Oedekoven was second with a time of 16.59 and Adeline Norstegaard was third at 16.70. Ashlyn Goven of Rozet was sixth overall at 16.87 on Sunday.

Campbell County was well-represented in barrels as Gillette’s Tenna Jolovich was sixth on Saturday when she was clocked at 16.861. Talli Engel made the top 20 with a time of 17.14 and Kalli Bowman of Gillette was next at 17.27.

Raelee Caldwell was stellar in goat tying where she finished second behind the best with a Saturday time of 7.060 seconds. Thompson, who is the defending national champion in the goat tying won Saturday’s performance in 6.75 seconds and was first Sunday with an even quicker time of 6.43.

“This fall season I competed in barrel racing, goat tying, and breakaway. I was seasoning a younger horse in barrel racing and was very pleased with how he handled the rodeo setting,” said Caldwell, who is a junior at Thunder Basin High School. “I will continue exposing him next spring and hope to advance him into the top 10 standings by state. Breakaway and goat tying are definitely my favorite events. I plan on practicing hard though the winter and have goals of making nationals in goats and breakaway. It would be so exciting to compete nationally at my hometown.”

Caitlyn Moore of Wright finished eighth overall on the final day of goat tying where she was clocked at 8.00.

The Saturday and Sunday winner of the breakaway roping was Kasey Carr of Jackson with times of 2.26 and 2.51. Locally, Caldwell was solid as well as she was seventh out of nearly 50 entries as she stopped the clock at 3.360 on Saturday and was eighth on Sunday at 3.42.

Rozet cowgirl Kaeley Hutchison had a fantastic third-place finish in the finale with a time of 2.67 seconds, just ahead of Caitlin Moore of Wright in fourth at 2.79. Also Sunday, Caldwell was eighth at 3.42 and Rozet’s Talli Engel posted a 3.63.

Making the top 11 from Campbell County Saturday were Rozlyn Herren with a time of 3.510 and Oedekoven at 3.670.

In the pole bending, Rayne Grant of Wheatland won both sessions with a time of 20.50 on Saturday and 19.86 on Sunday. Gillette’s Teanna Jolovich was sixth out of 37 with a time of 21.63 seconds on Saturday and was 10th in the final round at 22.24.