For the first time in its more than 40-year history as a high school sport in British Columbia, the B.C. High School Rodeo year-end finals were held in Williams Lake and the top 24 qualifiers (12 north, 12 south) began rolling into town as early as Thursday afternoon.
Our area had 10 qualifiers, nine of them Grade 12 students, so this was their last chance to capture a B.C. title over a weekend where many dreams have been unceremoniously trampled (or dumped) in the arena dust (or mashed in the mud, as the case may be) but it has also been a place where others have leapfrogged to glory with the performance of a lifetime.
Ryan Jasper (Riske Creek) qualified in five events and was ultimately successful in two as he claimed BCHSRA titles in bareback riding and bull riding.
Ryan captured the bareback riding title by posting the only marked ride of the finals (57 points) for first place on Friday.
In the bull riding he marked a 69 on Friday for second; on Saturday he marked a rodeo-high 78 (the only bull rider to ride) and all the bull riders were bucked off on Sunday.
Ryan finished fifth overall in tie down roping; he will compete in Gillette, Wyoming at the National High School Rodeo Finals (July) in the bareback and bull riding, tie down and team roping (partner, Ellis Smith).
The 2011 BCHRSA Reserve Champion Bull Rider is Devin Graham of Anahim Lake who won the first go-round with a score of 73, his only ride of the weekend. Devin will also compete at the NHSRF in Gillette as will Colton Manuel of 150 Mile House, who finished in fifth place.
Colton placed second in his second event (steer wrestling) on Sunday with an 11.2 second run and Matt Armes of Williams Lake took fifth in the steer wrestling on Saturday with a 25.8 second time.
Daine Bortolussi of Williams Lake wound up his BC High School Rodeo experience as the 2011 BCHSRA Reserve Champion Bareback Rider; Bortolussi was bucked off all three finals horses but retained in the reserve position.
Terris Billyboy competed in the pole bending where her best placing was for 10th spot (in a highly competitive event) on Friday with a 22.209 second run.
Ellis Smith (Williams Lake) wrapped up a successful high school rodeo career on the weekend as she roped her way to a second place (overall) finish (2011-BCHSRA Reserve Champion Breakaway Roper) by taking fifth spot on Friday with 4.7 seconds, winning Saturday with 2.7 and splitting third/fourth with 4.1 seconds on the final day.
Ellis also competed in the barrel racing (seventh, 16.32 on Saturday/fourth, 16.274 on Sunday) finishing 11th overall. She headed steers in the team roping for partner Chad Braaten (heeler, 150 Mile House) and they were fourth on Friday with 13.0 seconds, second on Saturday with 9.7 seconds and they took a costly “no-time” on Sunday that relegated them to Reserve Team Roping Champion status (second), a great result none-the-less.
Ellis will represent B.C. in Breakaway and Team Roping (Ryan Jasper) in July in Wyoming.
Another local team roping contestant who had a great weekend was Devon Reay of Williams Lake (teamed with Houston, B.C. roper, Kristin Bell); the duo won the round on Friday with a 9.1 second run, took a “no-time” Saturday and were third on Sunday (15.4 seconds), which moved them up several rungs into third place overall.
Reay and Bell will also make the long trek south for the NHSRA Finals to compete in the prestigious event.