CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
The Stampede Grounds were packed with the future of professional rodeo from June 10 to 12.
The Alberta High School Provincial Finals showcased the best young cowboys and cowgirls from across the province two weeks ahead of the Ponoka Stampede.
Ponoka had nine representatives qualify for the finals after the season points were added up. With a top four finish at finals, competitors earn the right to go to the 63rd National High School Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming from July 17 to 23. A finish fifth through tenth earns competitors a trip to Silver State International Rodeo in Fallon, Nevada.
Two cowgirls were at provincials.
Jenny Massing took part in breakaway roping and finished 17th, while Jessa Galloway, who competed in five events, punched her ticket to nationals with a third-place finish in breakaway roping. Galloway was the model of consistency in the breakaway with the top time in two of three of her runs, clocking a 3.3, 4.4 and 3.9 throughout the weekend. She finished eighth in barrels, 15th in goat tying, 20th in poles and 23rd in team roping.
Ponoka was represented by seven cowboys at provincials.
After leading the standings in cutting throughout the year, Sheldon Stretch had high expectations coming into provincials. Stretch didn’t disappoint, finishing second in the cutting event.
“The horse and I worked really well together this weekend,” said Stretch. “It was one of the best finals we’ve ever had and I’m happy getting second.”
The finish means Stretch will begin preparing for nationals in Wyoming.
“We’ll be working three of four days a week with my horse (whose name is Baby Doll Fletch). I’m excited about nationals and looking forward to it,” he said.
It will be his second trip to compete at nationals where more than 1,500 competitors will gather from 41 states, five provinces and Australia to battle it out to be crowned the best high rodeo competitor in the world. The experience Stretch gained from attending last year should help him at the rodeo this year.
“The experience is going to mean a lot and be very beneficial to me. I’ll know what’s going on and the amount of pressure that is involved,” said Stretch, who said his parents would be going to nationals to support him, and called rodeo a ‘family sport.’
Stretch said cutting was all about staying focused and not letting emotions get the best of you.
“You got to keep your cool and if you can stay calm you give yourself a chance. Trusting your horse would be the main thing,” explained Stretch. “Some days the horse is on and the odd day he might not do so well.”
In other action, Keely and Logan Bonnett competed in steer wrestling and the team roping events.
Keely finished 13th in steer wrestling getting stronger throughout the weekend and registering his best time on his final run, a 6.1. He combined with his brother in team roping grabbing seventh spot overall on the heeling end.
Logan finished 18th in steer wrestling and fifth overall header in team roping.
Tyrell Gordon was 22nd in tie-down roping and third in team roping after winning the event with his partner, Kolton Schmidt, last year. The team will make the trip to Wyoming for Nationals.
Quaid Wolfe finished eighth in team roping while Jordan Smith finished ninth and Nick Smith finished 19th.
On the lighter side: Four horses were reported on-the-loose on Highway 2A near the Ponoka Industrial Airport on June 10. The horses escaped from the Stampede Grounds and were rounded up by rodeo contestants in a field south of town.