By Tiffany Williams
The future stars of rodeo were on display during the Alberta High School rodeo finals on June 13 to 15 at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds. There were 166 cowboys and cowgirls from all over Alberta competing to be crowned the best in the province and a chance at the National Finals.
Two competitors from Ponoka will be traveling to the finals in Farminton, New Mexico on July 20 to 26 to compete in the largest rodeo in the world when measured in size. They will host 1,500 students from the United States, Canada and Australia.
Gina Flewelling will be going in breakaway and goat tying. In breakaway she was second in the first go with a time of 7.3 seconds and third in the third go with a time of 5.8 seconds. She finished second in the average but is the first place champion for the province. In goat tying she was fourth in the first go, first in the second go and tied for first and second in the third go. She finished in first place for the average and first place champion for the province.
Flewelling is in her second year in high school rodeo, in Grade 10 and is very excited to qualify for the nationals.
“Last year I had some tough luck and I’m glad my hard work paid off,” said Flewelling. “This is my first year going to the finals. I’ve watched my brothers so I’ve seen them and hopefully I will be a little bit more prepared.”
She had an 8.1 in the final go in goat tying and was very pleased with the time although it didn’t go as planned.
“I bobbled my tie a little so I wasn’t sure how I would do. I wasn’t sure if I should re-tie it but I didn’t and the goat didn’t kick.”
Brett Buss qualified for the finals in tie down roping finishing fourth and qualified for the Silver State Finals in Fallon, Nevada in team roping after placing sixth. He was awarded with the Truck and Trailer Scholarship winning $1,600 and $250 for the Wolf Creek School Scholarship.
Bailey Whyte placed 15th in barrels and 14th in pole bending. She was also awarded with the Truck and Trailer Scholarship winning $1,600 and $250 for the Wolf Creek School Scholarship.
Coby Auclair finished fifth in barrel racing qualifying for the Silver State Finals.
“It’s pretty exciting. You get to compete against the best kids in Canada and the United States and you get to see where you are,” said Auclair.
Miles Crandall the National Director for Alberta thought it was an extraordinary weekend. He thinks what makes these finals special is the fact that the committee that put these finals on is all from Ponoka and area.
“The facility here is second to none in Western Canada and even North America. Between the combination of the Ponoka Finals committee and the Ponoka Stampede Association has made it an easy decision for the Alberta High School Rodeo Association to host our finals for five straight years with another two just being awarded to Ponoka,” said Crandall.
Wacy Finkbeiner placed eighth overall in bull riding and second place in the second go round with a 73. Reid Butterfield finished ninth overall in steer wrestling and sixth in the second go round with 18 seconds. Lawrie Saunders finished seventh in breakaway and was tied for first and second in the third go with a time of 5.7 seconds. Lane Wolfe finished in fifth place in tie down roping and was in a three way tie for 13th place in team roping. Taylor Smith was 20th overall in pole bending.