Ponoka cowboys qualify for nationals

The Alberta High School Rodeo Finals were in Ponoka, June 11 to 13. With the top four in each event advancing to nationals, the competitors were focused and determined to secure their ticket to Gillette, Wy.

By Adam Eisenbarth

Alberta high school cowboys and cowgirls put it all on the line in an effort to qualify for the national championships.

The Alberta High School Rodeo Finals were in Ponoka, June 11 to 13. With the top four in each event advancing to nationals, the competitors were focused and determined to secure their ticket to Gillette, Wy.

Local competitors were well represented in this year’s event.

For most, the weekend was a success.

“It went alright. I won the breakaway and finished second in the goat tying. It’s pretty exciting,” said Gina Flewelling who gets the chance to compete in both events at nationals.

Her hard work and success in rodeo has already paid off.

“Next year I’m going to university in New Mexico on a rodeo scholarship and I’ll be in the college rodeo down there.”

For Lawrie Saunders, this is her final year in high school rodeo. Saunders finished first in the goat tying and advances to nationals. She also qualified in girls cutting, finishing fourth. The success also came with some frustration as she finished 10th in her best event, breakaway roping, but she’ll still advance to Silver State consolation rodeo for that performance.

Saunders says in a way it’s a bit sad to see her high school rodeo career nearing its end. “I guess (it’s sad to be almost done,) but I’ve also been here long enough.”

The talented athlete will shift her attention away from rodeo to another sport in the fall. “I’m going to U of C next year to play basketball.”

Saunders however, doesn’t plan on giving up her rodeo career just yet.

“I’ll come back to it when I can during the summer. I’ll try to rodeo next summer when I’m out of school.”

While the challenges in a rodeo largely involve the relationship of a horse and cowboy or cowgirl, team roping involves person-to-person teamwork as well, something that clicked for Ben Lauweryssen and Flewelling as they just missed a spot at nationals with a fifth-place finish.

“We have a pretty good working relationship. I never made it with my team roping partner last year,” said Lauweryssen.

While they fell just short of nationals, the duo qualified for Silver State in Nevada. The feat is impressive, considering the two had not worked much together in the past.

“This is really the only time that I’ve roped with her. She spun me three really good steers and I roped this one really good, and I did on Friday too,” he said on Sunday afternoon. “On Saturday unfortunately I just roped a leg but we had a pretty good weekend. We came here in the bottom hole and climbed up to fifth place and second in the average.”

Like many competitors, Lauweryssen is dreaming big for his rodeo future.

“I plan on making the pro rodeo in a few years and maybe make it down to the States in the National Finals in a few years, that’s one of my dreams.”

For many, superstition factors into the routine as they prepare to compete.

Going into her final barrel race on Sunday, Jessa Galloway didn’t know where she stood in the standings.

“I don’t know where I am and I honestly just don’t look. I don’t want to jinx it,” she said, adding it helps her to focus.

The tactic helped as she squeaked into nationals with a fourth-place finish. She also placed fifth in pole bending to qualify for Silver State.

She’s a fierce competitor and has been to nationals before. It seems there is a consensus among those who have battled it out in the big event in the past.

“It’s very competitive. Some of the girls (take it to the extreme.) I’m not like that, but it is very serious.”

With so much talent in Alberta, moving on to nationals or Silver State is a large task, but Ponoka high schoolers clearly represented well.

Other local competitors who have advanced to nationals were Sheldon Stretch in boys cutting and Clay Ulleryin in tie down. Tyrell Gordon qualified for Silver State in tie down.

Just Posted

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Rimbey RCMP need help identifying vandals

Plus, GPS in stolen vehicle helps locate it and the suspect in Red Deer

Ponoka Chamber to host election forum

All-candidates forum for Lacombe-Ponoka set for March 28 at the Ponoka Legion

Ponoka County $3.6 million surplus used to prepare for future

An unexpected grant carryover along with operational savings in 2018 has provided… Continue reading

St. Michael’s Church commemoration held west of Bashaw

The celebration acknowledged the history of Hungarian settlers in the area

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Wilson-Raybould to reveal more details, documents on SNC-Lavalin affair

Former attorney general has written to the House of Commons justice committee

Anti-discrimination group wants to map offenders with cross-Canada hate atlas

Morgane Oger Foundation issues call for volunteers to help build Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism

Most Read