Lake Shore’s Rindlisbacher family is familiar with big-time rodeo, since father Jason Rindlisbacher was a PRCA heeler.

Jason’s daughter Jade, who will be a sophomore at Spanish Fork High School this fall, had competed in the pole bending competition at the junior high school national rodeo competition in the past.

But July’s National High School Rodeo Finals in Gillette, Wyoming, was something special.

“It was on a whole different level,” said Jade’s mother Natalie Rindlisbacher in a phone interview Wednesday. “With the junior high nationals, we had an idea, but this was another level of competition. It was a lot bigger and had a lot more kids. Everything about it was more.”

There were 1,900 competitors representing a number of states, as well as other countries like Canada and Australia.

“I expected it to be really intense but it ended up being really relaxed,” Jade said. “I didn’t have any nerves at all. I was just excited to run.”

She explained that her experiences in other rodeos helped her settle in to the competition.

“On my first run, I was a little nervous but I really wasn’t because I had been at the junior high nationals the previous three years,” Jade said. “It was pretty packed in there. It was just awesome to be able to compete. Running, being in the arena was my favorite part.”

She ended up fifth overall in her pole bending event, giving her the best finish for any Utah cowgirl at nationals.

While she was pleased with that result, Jade has big plans for the future.

“I’d like to make it in more events this next year,” Jade said. “Just faster runs in pole bending will be what we are shooting for.”

Jade said the event was a combination of rodeo action and good fun.

“We would go to the performance in the morning, hang out and have a lot of fun in-between and then have the performance that night,” Jade said. “I went with friends to go swimming, go shopping, start a water-balloon fight, went to rope.”

She was the only representative from the Juab club but said she knew a lot of people at Nationals.

“I met a lot of friends plus I got closer with the kids from Utah,” Jade said.

She looks forward to more opportunities and advised those who earn a trip next year to get ready, then stay focused.

“I would say just work and practice as much as you can,” Jade said. “When you get there, just take one run at a time.”

The next season of high school rodeo in Utah starts in late August, so Jade plans to be back in the arena again soon. She said she feels fortunate to have these opportunities.

“I’m super-blessed with my family, my horses and my rodeo family,” Jade said. “I’m super-thankful for the experiences I’ve had through rodeo and the life lessons I’ve learned because of it.”

Other top local finishes at Nationals included Amanda Butler from Payson ending up 13th in barrel racing, while the Lehi Club’s Dawson Zaharias was 10th in boys cutting and Emmalee Dubois was seventh in goat-tying.

Thanks to Jade, Butler and Dubois, the Utah girls rodeo came in third overall, while Zaharias helped the Utah boys team finish fourth.

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.