High school rodeo

Erin Mcginley, of Bozeman, competes in barrel racing at the Montana High School Rodeo Association rodeo at the Miller Horse Palace near Laurel on May 14. 

BILLINGS — The Montana High School Rodeo Association State Finals rodeo is Thursday through Saturday at the Fallon County Fairgrounds in Baker.

The year-end competition will be held outdoors.

This year, all of the fall rodeos were completed between the middle of August and early October.

The spring season was shortened due to the new coronavirus. High school state secretary Laurie Harrell said the first rodeo was held in Terry May 9-10. Traditionally the spring season begins in the middle of March, she said.

Other spring rodeos occurred in Billings, Choteau and Big Timber.

“We had really good turnouts,” Harrell said. “They were pretty big.

“It was awesome and great to see those kids rodeoing again. They had a lot of fun.”

Harrell said some competitors did not compete this year as a precaution because of the coronavirus crisis.

This year there are 139 entries for state, which is slightly down from the 167 entries for last year.

“Everybody is really excited. It has been really hard to get these rodeos in,” Harrell said. “A lot of states aren’t getting to rodeo at all. We are really excited they get to.”

The rodeo starts at 8 a.m. Thursday with the first go round and will finish at approximately 4 p.m., or when all entries have competed once in all of their events. The order of competition is not by place, but a random draw.

On Friday, the second go round will be split into daytime and nighttime performances. The first competition of the day begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at approximately 1 p.m. On Friday, the individual competitors will compete in a reverse order from Thursday. The final 12 competitors who did not compete Friday morning in the reverse order in each event will then compete Friday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Due to the number of entries, all steer wrestlers and roughstock competitors will compete Friday night.

On Saturday for the championship go round, the top 16 in each event in the year-ends points will compete beginning at 12:30 p.m. The awards presentation is at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Harrell said any competitor who has earned at least one point in their event can go to state every year, however, this year the one-point rule was waived because of new memberships this fall.

The top-four year-end points winners in each event qualify for nationals. Harrell said organizers are still planning a high school nationals for the season, however, the location is to be determined. She said it was to have been in Lincoln, Nebraska, but due to local restrictions the event can’t be held there. Year-end points winners will earn championship saddles. 

Due to social distancing efforts in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, only competitors and their family, along with rodeo personnel, will be allowed entrance to the event. Results will be posted on the Montana High School Rodeo Association website (mhsra.com). 

Email Gazette Deputy Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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