Dunn County rodeo athletes eyeing world championships at finals
Four Dunn County youths are going to travel more than five hours for a few seconds of glory.
Lakken Bice, Karly Bang, Hayes LeMieux and Ty Truchan will test their abilities against the best when they compete in the 68th annual National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo., from July 17-23.
Billed as the “World’s Largest Rodeo,” the National High School Finals Rodeo features more than 1,650 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia. Action at the event is non-stop, with rodeo performances being conducted twice each day.
Their year-long journey will culminate in Gillette’s spacious Morningside Park arena in the Cam-Plex Facilities. And their trek that could come down to seconds or less in the week-long extravaganza against the finest high school rodeo athletes in the country. Action at the event is non-stop, with rodeo performances conducted twice each day.
The four rodeo standouts advanced to the national finals after placing in the top four spots in their events at the North Dakota High School State Finals Rodeo in Bowman in June. They have proven that they belong among the elite.
Bice and Bang qualified for the national finals in two events while LeMieux and Truchan nabbed a spot in the big cowboy show in team roping.
Bice will be competing in the barrel racing and pole bending. She was the state runner-up in barrel racing and placed fourth in pole bending.
Bang, who won Rookie-of-the-Year in North Dakota, will be competing in breakaway roping and cow cutting. She qualified by placing third in the state in breakaway roping and fourth in cow cutting.
LeMieux and Truchan will put their teamwork skills in the team roping event. The duo was second in the state in the event.
Bice and LeMieux qualified for the finals last year. This is the first go-round for Bang and Truchan.
Contestants will also vie for more than $350,000 in college scholarships and the chance to win the coveted championship belt buckle and be named NHSFR world champion. To earn the title, competitors must finish in the top 20 based on their combined times/scores over the first two rounds to advance to Saturday night’s final round. World Champions will then be crowned based on their combined times/scores over the three rounds.
The National High School Rodeo Association is one of the fastest growing youth organizations, with an annual membership of approximately 12,500 students from 42 states, five Canadian provinces, and Australia. The Association sanctions over 1,800 rodeos each year, according to the NHSFR web site.
The boy’s events at the finals include Bareback Riding, Bull Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, and Cutting. The girl’s events include Breakaway Roping, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Goat Tying, Cutting, Team Roping, and the NHSRA Queen contest. Boys and girls compete together in Team Roping, but are separate in all other events, according to the web site.
The NHSRA was created to give high school students the opportunity to participate and compete in this unique and challenging sport. Although not recognized by high school athletics, the NHSRA offers a rodeo program that sets high school rodeo apart from other varsity sports: Athletes compete on a scale comparable to collegiate and professional rodeo competitors. The NHSRA is an independent student athletic association — governing itself without supervision of school administrations or assistance from tax dollars. Members are fully insured, supervised and guided by adult experts, according to the web site.