This past weekend’s rodeos in Buffalo (although one was the Sheridan rodeo hosted by Buffalo) brought the long high school rodeo season to the brink of closing in Wyoming. Cowboys and cowgirls have competed throughout the 11 rodeos that spanned across nine months just to get into the positions they are now.
All that remains is the state championship, which begins Tuesday in Gillette. Of course, after that, comes the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs in mid-July, but in order to get there individuals first have to go through Gillette.
Some that stand atop the standings after the final rodeo of the regular season know what it takes to get to Rock Springs. Others are bright-eyed newcomers. So here’s a quick rundown of who impressed in Buffalo over the weekend and where that puts them going into the state finals.
The top four finishers in each event will represent Wyoming at the NHSFR.
Bareback bronc riding
Diamondville’s Donny Proffit continues to charge. He scored a 70.0 and a 66.0 over the weekend to notch wins and increase his lead atop the event standings. The four-time state champion wrestler at Kemmerer has led the event from almost start-to-finish this season with Baggs’ Riggen Myers the only one close on the aggregate. Myers finished second to Proffit with a 66.0 for the Buffalo rodeo and finished third at Sheridan with a 57.0.
This one’s interesting. Shay Hough of Gillette swept the weekend to move into a one-point lead in the standings over Douglas’ Shelby Petersen, who finished third at the Buffalo rodeo. Maddie Fantaskey of Worland stands 11 points back after finishing fourth in both rodeos over the weekend.
Despite finishing outside the top three in both rodeos, Sheridan’s Ellie Bard holds a 14-point lead in the standings. Riverton’s Madison Enos and Casper’s Rachel Retherford both tallied wins over the weekend to move further up the standings. Jordyn McNamee of Buffalo, second in the standings, finished outside the top 10 in both rodeos.
Four remain in contention. Pinedale’s Wyatt Phelps tied for second in Sheridan to retain the top spot in the standings with a 107.5. Behind him is Dalton McCaslin of Grover (104.5), who moved up with a second-place finish on a 73-point ride in the Buffalo rodeo. Zain Fitzgerald of Cody (100) did not score in the Sheridan rodeo but finished fifth at Buffalo to stay in third, and Brody Hasenack of Jackson (97) did not score in either rodeo and is now 10.5 points out of the lead.
Madison Wolff of Gillette and Karissa Phillips of Rock Springs both tallied victories over the weekend, although neither did much to alter the standings. Sheridan’s Tavy Leno still leads with 118 points and Yoder’s Haiden Thompson remains closest to testing the lead with 112.5, despite no top-three finish over the weekend.
Gillette’s Hough took second in both rodeos to increase her lead, as she now has 119 points. Halle Hladky of Gillette stands in second as the only feasible challenger with 100 total points after finishing fifth and sixth over the weekend. Maddie Fantaskey of Worland (10th) won in Sheridan while Gillette’s Madison Wolff (fourth) won in Buffalo.
Saddle bronc riding
Jase Longwell of Thermopolis retained his lead with a third-place finish in Sheridan. Longwell’s 93 aggregate points leads Kayson Dory of Laramie (88), even though Dory won at Sheridan and finished second at Buffalo. That weekend moves Dory into a promising position ahead of the state finals.
Technically a Colorado resident, Winsten McGraw stands atop the rest with 111 points in the standings. The Gill, Colorado, cowboy leads Rozet’s Kagen King, who didn’t register a score at either rodeo over the weekend. Skyler Lubkeman of Gillette took third at Sheridan to move into a tie with fellow Gillette Cowboy Kaden Berger for third with 90 points.
The team of Jade Espencheid of Big Piney and Coy Johnson of Buffalo padded their already well-established lead by winning at Buffalo. The two hold a 22.5-point lead over the Big Piney duo of Kolby Bradley and Arye Espenscheid, whose best finish of the weekend was fourth at Buffalo.
Two of the top three in the event notched wins over the weekend. Preston Schwartzkopf of Douglas won at Sheridan, moving his second-place standing (90) closer to the top, and Cooper Deveraux of Newcastle won at Sheridan to move into third place with 82 points. Jake Deveraux of Newcastle still leads the event with 103 points.