It was a grand success in terms of the Ponoka contingent at a provincial rodeo championship over the weekend.
Two of four local athletes — Kash Bonnett and Clay Guthrie — captured spots in next month’s National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) finals on their home turf as the Calnash Ag Event Centre played host to the Alberta High School Rodeo provincial championship June 1 to 3.
Coincidentally, it will be their second trip to the event. Bonnett went last year in team roping, while Guthrie competed at the 2016 event in steer wrestling.
For Bonnett though, it’s double the excitement this time around, as he will compete in his big event — team roping — but also in the tie down roping after placing second in each event at provincials.
“It went pretty good. I’m excited,” stated Bonnett a day after the event ended.
Bonnett will be joined by team roping partner Tate Schmidt from Barrhead, as the pair placed second at the provincials with run times of 9.0, 7.8 and 5.9 seconds. In the tie down roping, Bonnett posted runs of 28.6, 13.5 and 10.7 seconds through the weekend, which proved to be good enough as only four runs the entire weekend went under the 10 second mark.
With having gone south for the junior high national finals three years running and now heading for his second straight high school finals, Bonnett knows the task ahead is certainly difficult.
“It’s pretty tough now at the high school level and definitely different than junior high as there are a lot more competitors who get to more rodeos than I can,” he said, who added his main event is team roping.
“Last year, we placed in the first round, but didn’t get any luck in the second round so it’s going to be really nice to have two chances this year.”
Bonnett also competed in the steer wrestling at provincials and wound up sixth as he could only manage one good run. That said, he also took the high point title at provincials.
For Guthrie, he captured third in the steer wrestling, putting up times of 14.8 and 6.4 after getting a bit unlucky with a steer bailing right out of the chute on his opening run.
“I’m very excited to get another shot at nationals. The years before have been such a great experience and I can’t wait to perform at the next level again,” he stated.
“There were some things that I would have liked to do differently at provincials, but in the end it all worked out just fine in accomplishing my goal of making it to the big stage.”
The other two locals competing were Macy Auclair and Couy McBride.
Auclair finished up the breakaway roping event in eighth spot with times on two out of three runs (3.0 and 15.2), while McBride in the tie down roping posted runs of 18.8 and 18.3 to wind up in 28th place.
The NHSRA finals will run in Rock Spring, Wyoming from July 15 to 21 and Bonnett will be preparing for it by competing in rodeos every weekend between now and the finals.