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Rivera wins NHSRA barrel racing national championship
Denny 10th in steer wrestling
Friday, August 16th, 2013
Issue 33, Volume 17.
Rivera, who rode Barney, had a three-run average (aggregate) of 52.067 seconds at the NHSRA championships July 14-20 in Rock Springs, Wyoming. The NHSRA finals also included tenth place in steer wrestling for Menifee’s Tommy Denny.
"It was pretty pleasing to be able to win it all as a freshman," Rivera said.
Last year Rivera competed in the National Junior High School Rodeo Association national finals and finished seventh in barrel racing. Rivera, who has been educated through the Laurel Springs on-line college prep school since she was in sixth grade, became eligible for high school rodeo in 2012-13 when she was a freshman.
"It was definitely a bit harder and I had to be more focused and work harder, but it was definitely worth it," she said.
The top five finishers in the district point standings for each event are invited to the California High School Rodeo Association state finals, which this year took place June 8-15 in Bishop. Rivera finished second in the District 8 barrel racing standings, behind Tustin’s Heather Eckman. Denny was third in the district steer wrestling standings. The CHSRA has nine districts; District 8 covers San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties and part of San Bernardino County.
The top four finishers at the state finals qualify for the national finals. Rivera and Jaycee Spence of Modesto shared third and fourth in the final state standings which are based on positions in each of the go-rounds, positions in the average, and position points carried over from the district standings.
"My first two runs at state were really bad," Rivera said.
Rivera was seventh and ninth on those runs, giving her a fifth-place average of 33.167 seconds entering the short go which took the top 15 riders after the first two go-rounds. Rivera’s short go time of 15.724 seconds was the fastest run not only in the go-round but also for the state finals. Eckman’s time of 16.155 seconds placed second in the short go and was also the rodeo’s next-fastest time.
The short go gave Rivera an average of 48.891 seconds, behind only the 48.828-second time of Visalia’s Billie Holman, and advanced Rivera to the national finals.
Denny placed tenth and seventh on his first two steer wrestling runs at the state finals and was sixth in the average entering the short go. Denny was fifth in the short go, but two cowboys ahead of him after two go-rounds failed to catch their steer. Denny finished fourth in the average and shared fourth place in the final state standings with District 1 champion Sterling Humphry of McArthur. The tie allowed the state’s top five steer wrestlers to compete at the national finals.
Rivera was sixth in the final state goat tying standings after placing fifth in the district standings, ninth in the first go-round at the state finals, fourth in the short go, and fifth in the state finals average. Denny finished sixth in the state in tie-down roping with fifth-place District 8 carryover points and state finals positions of seventh in the first go, eighth in the short go, and fifth in the average.
Rivera noted that the lesson she took from the state finals into the national finals was to stay motivated and to persist even when early troubles arise. The "mirror" format for the first two go-rounds, in conjunction with the contestant draw, gave Rivera runs on both the morning and the evening of July 17.
"That was kind of hard," she said.
Rivera had a time of 17.790 seconds in the first go-round.
"The first run was really solid and correct. It was just kind of slow," she said.
Fortunately for Rivera’s eventual standing in the average, three times in the second go and five runs in the short go were faster than the winning time of 17.426 seconds Florida’s Dakota Randolph posted in the first go-round. Utah’s Katelyn Badham was second at 17.630 seconds.
Rivera and Barney took 17.050 seconds on their second run.
"The second run he fired really hard and he was amazing," Rivera said.
Rivera won the second go-round with what would turn out to be the fastest time of the rodeo, and she also entered the short go with the lead in the average. The top 20 in the average after two go-rounds competed in the short go July 20. The contestants drew for order, and Rivera was first out.
"I just had to go out there and try to win it and try to give them something to run at," she said.
Her time of 17.227 seconds was bettered in the short go only by South Dakota’s Taylor Engesser, who took 17.219 seconds. Those times also gave Rivera the third-fastest time of the rodeo as well as the fastest. Timmi Hutchings of Blackfoot, Idaho, was second in the average at 52.692 seconds.
"Winning the go-round was really cool and having the fastest time of the rodeo was awesome, but definitely winning the national championship was the coolest thing ever," Rivera said.
Barney is now 14. Rivera has raced him off and on for about four years. The Rivera family moved from Orange County to Murrieta two years ago.
Denny, who utilizes the National University Academy independent study program, was a junior during the CHSRA district season. He was three when the family moved from Bonsall to Menifee in October 1999.
Denny’s father, Wade, served his son’s hazer, who guides the steer, at the NHSRA finals. Denny rode 19-year-old Jake.
"I’m happy with the way I finished up," Denny said. "It was a really big rodeo and a lot of fun just getting there."
Denny, who did not qualify for the state finals in steer wrestling as a freshman in 2011, won both the state championship and the state finals average last year but lacked success at the 2012 NHSRA national finals. Denny’s first official time at a high school national finals thus occurred during the July 16 evening performance, when his run of 5.04 seconds was worth seventh place in the go-round. Denny’s time of 5.41 seconds the morning of July 18 was the 19th fastest in the second go-round and placed Denny fifth in the average entering the short go
Rodeo cowboys often obtain background information on their stock between the draw and their run, but Denny ended up not bulldogging against the initial steer he drew in the short go.
"The steer just kind of wanted to lay down in the chute," he said.
When that steer didn’t get up, the judges gave Denny one of the extra steers designated for such circumstances.
"I didn’t really know anything about the extra," he said.
Denny caught that steer in 4.79 seconds but broke the barrier in doing so and incurred a ten-second penalty.
"Just kind of a calculated risk. It’s something that just happens sometimes," he said.
The time of 14.79 seconds with the penalty gave Denny 11th in the go-round. While his average of 25.24 seconds produced an official tenth-place finish, had he not broken the barrier a time of 15.24 seconds would have placed second in the average.
"I kind of like to think that I kind of finished up second," Denny said.
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