The National High School Finals Rodeo, which brings together more than 1,700 cowboys and cowgirls from around the country as well as Canada and Australia, begins Sunday at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs.
Billed as the world’s largest rodeo, the NHSFR runs through July 21.
Wyoming will be well-represented at this year’s rodeo, with Gillette’s Shay Hough returning to defend her all-around cowgirl title and Saratoga’s Kasen York back to defend his all-around rookie cowboy crown.
Last year Hough was the reserve pole bending champion and finished 14th in barrel racing while York was 16th in reined cow horse and 44th in boys cutting. Hough and York are the only returning competitors from Wyoming who qualified for the final go-round last year.
Wyoming does return a number of competitors with NHSFR experience, however. Casper team roper Carson Johnson, who will rope with Kal Fuller from Bozeman, Montana, teamed with older brother Kellan last year to finish second in the first go before recording a no-time in the second go and missing the finals.
In addition to Hough (barrel racing, pole bending) and York (reined cow horse, boys cutting), other Wyomingites competing in multiple events are: Baggs’ Riggen Myers (bareback bronc riding, bull riding), Newcastle’s Teigen Marchant (tie-down roping, steer wrestling), and Sheridan’s Ellie Bard and Gillette’s Sage Kohr, who will both compete in three events (breakaway roping, barrel racing, pole bending).
Last year, Wyoming finished sixth overall in the team standings, with the boys taking eighth and the girls 10th.