The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Four rodeo club members reach finals at nationals in Wyoming


Acentric Rodeo

Senior Cassie Kayser made the most of her last trip to the National High School Finals Rodeo, finishing fourth overall in the breakaway roping.

It had been quite some time since the Goldendale High School Rodeo Club had the turnout it had this year at the National High School Finals Rodeo.

Five Klickitat County competitors – Cassie and Curtis Kayser, Lane Siebert, Justin Slater, and Courtney Tatro – advanced to the world's biggest rodeo where they not only had strong individual finishes, but helped Washington state to one of its highest finishes in recent memory.

Four Klickitat County members advanced to the finals and finished in the top 20 while Washington state as a whole finished 10th overall along the 50 states along with Canada, Australia, and Mexico.

"The Goldendale kids cleaned house. They did really well," rodeo club coach Tammy Kayser said.

"Our Klickitat County rodeo kids did so well against some of the toughest competition in the nation. I'm so proud of all of their success in the arena, but more importantly how great of kids they are. These kids are cheering each other on and helping each other out. Rodeo kids are one of a kind. They are there to support each other every step of the way," Kayser added.

Having recently graduated from GHS, Cassie Kayser made the most of her last trip to nationals with a couple of lightning-quick runs in the breakaway roping. She went on to finish fourth overall among close to 200 competitors and was one of just three girls who completed each go in the breakaway in less than three seconds.

Soon to be seniors Justin Slater and Lane Siebert also reached the finals in their events and posted top 20 finishes in the saddle bronc and team roping respectively while Courtney Tatro (a junior next school year) was on the mark in the light rifle with a seventh place overall finish. Curtis Kayser, also a junior next school year, competed in both the team and tie down roping, but wasn't able to advance to the finals.

At the NHSFR, each competitor gets two goes in each event and those who are in the top 20 after two goes advance to the championship round where they competed for a world championship.

Cassie Kayser

Kayser made her second-straight trip to the NHSFR after debuting last year, and closed out her high school rodeo career with a big time performance in the breakaway roping.

Early last week, Kayser was up in her first go in the event and cruised, finishing in 2.76 seconds which placed her 10th in the field after everyone completed one go.

It was one of the top runs for Kayser this season, but she wasn't done. After last Monday's great start, she followed it up with another quick run in her second go last Friday afternoon, finishing in 2.95 seconds and leading the 10 competitors from her group who recorded times.

Both of those runs were more than fast enough to propel her into Saturday's final round, where it was described as a pressure cooker by coach Tammy Kayser. The top 20 cowgirls were in the finals, where the girls with the slowest of the times went first.

Cassie Kayser entered the final round with the fourth quickest average, and watched as the girls before her put up some quick times. She turned in another quick run, this time in 2.8 seconds, placing her fourth overall by the slimmest of margins. Just .01 seconds separated the third and fourth place finishers and just .04 seconds separated Kayser from the overall winner in the event.

Kayser earned a couple extra scholarships from her finish along with a new belt buckle.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunities that NHSRA has given me. I've had so many amazing experiences and met friends that will last a lifetime," she said.

Also before they all headed home, Cassie Kayser, as vice president of the National High School Rodeo Association, helped make a change to future High School and Junior High Finals Rodeos.

During Sunday's wrap up meeting, it was decided that prize money will be added and participants will compete for cash prizes along with scholarships.

In the past, the top finishers in each event earned scholarships, but starting next year, a purse of $100,000 will be distributed to high school finishers, and $50,000 will go to top finishers in the junior high rodeo.

Although Kayser is done competing in high school, she is far from done. She's attending the College of Southern Idaho in the fall to compete, and the last couple of years at nationals has helped shape her that moment.

"Competing at the finals against the best of the best has helped me prepare for the next level of competition," Kayser said.

Curtis Kayser

Curtis Kayser joined his sister and Slater as the three returners to the NHSFR after all three competed last season, but wasn't able to come away with a trip to the finals in his two events.

Last year, he attended nationals and competed in the tie down roping, and was back this year to compete again in the tie down roping while also competing in the team roping with his cousin Lance Mills.

Things didn't quite go his way in either event, although he was able to record times in one of the goes in each event.

In the tie down roping, Kayser missed the calf on Monday's first go, but bounced back Friday in the second go where he finished the run in 14.19 seconds.

In the team roping, Kayser and Mills recorded a 25.32 second time in their first go last Wednesday morning, but couldn't get a time in their second go later that same evening.

Justin Slater

After competing at the NHSFR last season in the cutting event, Slater returned to nationals after finishing the regular rodeo season as Washington's reserve champ in the saddle bronc.

Slater was up both Wednesday morning and afternoon in the event in which participants try to ride a bucking bronco for eight seconds.

In his first go in the morning, Slater finished with 45 points and followed it up with 53 in his second go last Wednesday evening. His two-go average was enough to push him into the final round on Saturday.

He wasn't able to record a time in his final run though, and his average placed him 14th in the nation.

Courtney Tatro

Having previously qualified for the NHSFR and the National Junior High Finals Rodeo for the past couple of years, Tatro made her debut this season at nationals in a couple different events.

She had a strong showing in the reined cow horse event but wasn't able to secure a berth in the finals, but was on fire in her other event, the light rifle.

Among 117 total shooters in the event, Tatro sat in 13th place with 306 total points after everyone went through. She shot best in the prone position with 112 points, added 102 points while kneeling, and finished with 92 points while standing.

She continued her strong shooting into the finals, and rose to seventh place after shooting another round of 306 points in the finals. She was just one of 10 shooters to finish with 600 or more points (she had 612 points) over the regular and final round.

She was first up in the reined cow horse event last Sunday afternoon where she finished her first go with 265.5 points. A relatively new event that was added in 2014, the reined cow horse is an event where horses are asked to work a single live cow in an arena, performing specific maneuvers that include circling the cow, turning it in a specified manner, and performing a reining pattern. Her second go in the event was Friday where she recorded 283.5 points.

Lane Siebert

Siebert joined Tatro in the light rifle and also competed in the team roping with Yakima's Grady Adams.

Siebert and Adams were in sync in all of their runs in the team roping, finishing in 13.38 seconds in their first go on July 15 and speeding up to 7.28 seconds in their second go Saturday morning.

Their two-run average was quick enough for the top 20 finish and the two earned a spot in the finals later Saturday night.

Among the 20 other groups in the finals, Siebert and Adams recorded the fifth fastest time at 9.11 seconds. After everyone completed their final run, the Washington duo's average time came out to be the seventh fastest time in the nation. Both earned belt buckles and scholarships for the high finish.

Acentric Rodeo

Curtis Kayser made his second straight appearance at nationals and competed in both the team and tie down roping.

Outside the arena, Siebert was on target in the light rifle, where he finished just one shot outside the top 20 and just missed advancing to the final shoot, which took the top 20 shooters after the first round of shooting.

Siebert finished at 290 points after the three rounds of shooting (104 prone, 88 standing, and 98 kneeling) and finished just behind North Carolina's Brooke Simpson for the final spot in the finals.

High school rodeo season is now over, but you will still see many of the kids at some of the upcoming Northwest Professional Rodeo Association sanctioned events.

With just one senior making the trip this year, Cassie Kayser, the experience at nationals should only help the other four as they continue their rodeo careers.

"Just the level of competition (at nationals) only helps them grow as a competitor. It really helps them step their game up," Tammy Kayser said.


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