By Adam Eisenbarth
Three Ponoka competitors have returned from the National Junior High School Rodeo Finals with plenty to be proud of.
The June 27 to July 3 rodeo in Gallup, N. M. was the big event of the year for competitors throughout Canada, the United States and Australia.
Headlining the group of Ponoka competitors was Keely Bonnett who competed in boys’ breakaway and goat tying, as well as team roping with partner Walker Galloway.
Bonnett had success in all three events, earning eighth spot in the all-around cowboy category in his final year in the Wrangler division.
Of course his success in team roping couldn’t have come without Galloway as the Ponoka duo finished 10th overall in the event. The two posted the fourth best time out of 36 in the first round.
“There were a lot of teams and a lot of fans, it was kind of nerve wracking,” said Galloway.
For the 13-year-old header, the success made it worth the long journey to New Mexico. “I think we did really good down there. I think we roped awesome.”
Galloway has lined up a new team roping partner, Quentin Branden of Barrhead, as Bonnett moves on to the high school rodeo next year. The two had worked together for the last two years but Galloway is confident his new partner will help him continue to have success in his final year.
“Quentin ropes good and I think if I just keep roping good we should be all right.”
In his individual events, Bonnett was strong in the breakaway where he placed first overall in the second round, bumping him up to 27th in the average. He was also successful in goat tying, where he finished 19th overall out of more than 130 competitors.
The two cowboys weren’t the only Ponoka competitors to see success.
Jenny Massing competed in the girls’ breakaway. She finished second in her group in round one, good for 17th overall in the round. Massing would finish 37th out of 81 in the event.
“I thought it went really well. I think I handled the nerves and for the first time being there I thought it went pretty good.”
The 13-year-old will move on to participate in the high school rodeo next year, a new challenge she is looking forward to. “I’m going to keep working on all my events and try to get to Gillette (for Nationals.)”
While the rodeo was a serious competition for the young competitors, Massing had time to enjoy the trip with her friends, Bonnett and Galloway. “It was really good. We stopped a lot and hung out with each other so it was really fun.”
In the team standings, Alberta finished 16th, ahead of Australia and the other three provinces represented in the competition.