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Cowboys and cowgirls crowned as state champs at high school rodeo finals

By Jared Lloyd daily Herald - | Jun 13, 2021
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Cedar Valley's Joey Dansie, representing the Lehi Rodeo Club, competes in the steer wrestling during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Spanish Fork's Morgan Beckstrom, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the barrel racing during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Braylee Shepherd, representing the Juab Rodeo Club, competes in the breakaway roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Jayden Allinson, representing the Lehi Rodeo Club, competes in the bull riding  during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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McKardy Kelly, representing the Wasatch Rodeo Club, competes in the barrel racing during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Cedar Valley's Joey Dansie, representing the Lehi Rodeo Club, competes in the bareback riding during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Oaklee Giles, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the barrel racing during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Brandon Youd, representing the Juab Rodeo Club, competes in the steer wrestling during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Cottar Deveraux, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the tiedown roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Maklee Larsen, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the barrel racing during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Keldon Goode, representing the Wasatch Rodeo Club, competes in the saddle bronc riding during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Madison Scott, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the pole bending during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Colton Lloyd, representing the Juab Rodeo Club, competes in the steer wrestling during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Wyatt Rindlisbacher, representing the Juab Rodeo Club, and Beretta Bradford, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, compete in the team roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Saydee Davis, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the barrel racing during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Kate Fitzgerald, representing the Wasatch Rodeo Club, competes in the goat tying during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Solomon Andersen, representing the Wasatch Rodeo Club, competes in the steer wrestling during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Bridger Crandall, representing the Juab Rodeo Club, competes in the tiedown roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Skylee Draper, representing the Juab Rodeo Club, competes in the breakaway roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Athletes stand at attention during the national anthem before the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Macy Hullinger, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, competes in the pole bending during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Maklee Larsen, representing the South Utah County Rodeo Club, and Bryson Nielson, representing the Sevier Rodeo Club, compete in the team roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Madeleine Kelly, representing the Wasatch Rodeo Club, competes in the breakaway roping during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Christopher Staley, representing the Lehi Rodeo Club, competes in the bull riding  during the short-go performance of the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

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Cedar Valley's Joey Dansie (white shirt), representing the Lehi Rodeo Club, poses for a photo after winning the state championship in the steer wrestling at the 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber on Saturday, June 12, 2021.

When going up against the best high school rodeo athletes in the state, it requires preparation, resiliency, and sometimes a little luck to emerge as the champ.

After a year of competing wrapping up with the ultra-competitive and pressure-packed 2021 Utah High School Rodeo Finals at the Wasatch County Event Complex in Heber last week, three cowboys and two cowgirls from the area proved to be the best in their events.

But it definitely wasn’t easy.

Take what recent Cedar Valley graduate Joey Dansie went through on his final run in the steer wrestling at the short-go performance on Saturday.

As he got ready to ride, he noticed that his hazer’s horse — ridden by his dad, Zane — didn’t appear to be comfortable.

“As I went to nod, his horse came whipping around, trying to get a good out,” Dansie said. “I was kicking as hard as I could. I knew I had a fast steer, so I got to my spot and thought, just jump.”

Dansie — who competes for the Lehi Rodeo Club — didn’t hesitate, since he had been in a similar situation before.

“Last year at nationals. I had a steer that ducked under my hazer,” Dansie said. “I just kept riding past. In that moment, I was like, I’m never running past a steer that’s going to be right there ever again.”

He started dragging through the dirt of the arena, trying to get the leverage he needed to get the steer to the ground. The spacing, however, wasn’t what Dansie intended.

“I thought the steer was kicking me in the back but then I hear my dad yell, ‘don’t let go!'” Dansie said. “Then the horse just ran right over me.”

Even though the impact sent Dansie sprawling for a moment, he kept his grip on the steer. He recovered and threw the animal to the ground to complete the run.

“I was just lucky,” Dansie said. “I came in with the mentality that I’m going to do the best I can. It was in my mind that I was going to go down and get down, no matter what. It just felt good.”

Although he didn’t have the fastest time in the performance, that effort combined with what he did all season was enough to securing him the state title in steer wrestling.

“It means a lot, although I don’t think I’m the best bulldogger here,” Dansie said. “Now I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can at nationals.”

One of the youngest state champs also came through in a tight spot in her event.

Spanish Fork’s Morgan Beckstrom, who represents the South Utah County Rodeo Club and will be a sophomore this fall, had the fastest time in her first two barrel racing performances this week but had seen teammate Oaklee Giles put together an excellent run early in Saturday’s short-go.

But Beckstrom doesn’t believe that someone else making a fast run is a bad thing.

“I always try and listen to the time,” Beckstrom said. “Right when I hear I just have a big old smile on my face. Everyone says when I come out of alleyway I always have the biggest smile.”

Riding her talented horse Slingshot, Beckstrom rocketed around the first two barrels but was coming in tight on the third and final barrel. If it got knocked over, the resulting five-second penalty could’ve loomed large.

“I knew I had to keep my barrels up to win state and win the average,” Beckstrom said. “I just safetied up on that one because she did knock it a little bit. I hurried and put my hand on it. The one time I did that before was in Winnemucca and I lifted the barrel. It halfway came up and it was a little scary. I don’t usually do it but this time I did.”

The barrel stayed in place and Beckstrom completed the run, edging her friend by just 0.007 of a second (16.405 to 16.412). That gave her three straight wins and propelled her to the top of the barrel-racing standings.

“It feels great (to win state),” Beckstrom said. “I’ve been working really hard for it. It’s crazy. I didn’t think I would come in and win all three rounds. Slingshot is amazing. I love her. She did great.”

The other local cowgirl to win a title was Juab’s Braylee Shepherd, who rallied past the other challengers to win the breakaway-roping crown.

“I came in farther back, so I had to do well this week,” Shepherd said. “It all worked out this week. I came in knowing I had to rope all three calves. I practiced for it and that’s what I did.”

This is the second consecutive year that Shepherd (who will be a senior this fall) has won the title in the event and she said it feels awesome to do it twice.

“It’s very hard to keep that confidence,” Shepherd said. “You have to stay humble and work hard for it.”

Preston and Suede Olsen, representing South Utah County, also capped a great year by winning the state championship in the team roping competition.

The five state champions and all the other athletes who finished in the top four in their respective events now turn their attention to preparing to compete at the 2021 National High School Rodeo Finals.

“It’s a whole lot of fun,” Dansie said. “You’ve got to draw well and everything, but you’ve got to do what you’ve been practicing, do everything you know.”

Beckstrom said she’s thrilled to go to nationals for the first time.

“I’ve never been to nationals so it’s really exciting to be able to go,” she said.

The national competition will take place in Lincoln, Nebraska, on July 18-24.

For complete details from the Utah High School Rodeo Finals, go to http://UHSRA.org.

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