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High school rodeo athletes from across Nebraska head to Hastings for state finals

By Ruth Nicolaus for the Adams County Ag Society

HASTINGS, Neb. — The best high school rodeo athletes in the state will make their way to Hastings, Neb., June 10-12 to compete for the title of Nebraska’s best.

The Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo features the top 30 contestants in each of 13 events (top 60 in the team roping.) The high school students have accumulated points throughout the fall and spring seasons, and the following is a look at several of the event leaders.

POKORNY



Dane Pokorny is back to defend his 2021 steer wrestling title.

The Stapleton cowboy, a 2022 graduate of Thedford High School, leads the steer wrestling this year, a mere eight points ahead of his friend, Coy Johnston.



His rodeo year has been good, he said, “consistent. I’ve been picking up points every weekend.”

Not only does Pokorny excel in rodeo, but he was part of the Thedford High football team that won the state runner-up title in Class D2. He was all-state honorary caption and all-state running back, and started all four years in both football and basketball.

And this is the last state finals rodeo for Pokorny’s horse, Shorty. He will be retired after Pokorny rides him at state finals, and, if he qualifies, at the National High School Finals. After that, it’s out to pasture, to be “loved on,” Pokorny said.

Pokorny is the son of Brad and Paula Pokorny. He has also qualified for the finals in the team roping.

MCINTYRE

Reagan McIntyre, Grand Island, has burst into the high school rodeo world in grand fashion.

The 15-year-old cowgirl who just finished her freshman year is leading two events: the breakaway roping and the goat tying, with a double-digit lead in the breakaway over the No. 2 cowgirl, Makayla Wray.

Reagan McIntyre, Grand Island, leads two events coming into this weekend’s state high school finals. The 15-year-old cowgirl is first in the breakaway roping (pictured) and the goat tying. Photo by Steph Miller

McIntyre excelled in junior high rodeo, finishing at the National Junior High Finals in sixth place in the world in the breakaway. “That gave me the confidence going into high school,” she said. “I knew there was tons of tough competition (in high school) so I’d have to take a step up, coming into the high school ranks.”

A student at Grand Island Northwest, she participates in volleyball, basketball and track, and was on the honor roll. Her 4×800 relay team finished seventh in Class B at the state track meet this year.

The oldest of four children of Jeremy and Karen McIntyre, Reagan admits the entire family is competitive when playing games, such as spoons. “It’s definitely pretty intense,” she laughed. “We have pretty much stopped playing because (the games) get so competitive.”

She has a plan for state finals. “I’m just going to go into it how I go into every run. It’s just another weekend where you have to lay down solid runs and stay on the top of your game.” She has also qualified for the state finals in the pole bending, team roping and barrel racing.

MILLER

In the bareback riding, Tate Miller is confidently in first place.

The Springview cowboy has a six-point lead over the No. 2 man, Spencer Denaeyer.

His strong rodeo season has been good, he said, after a weak showing at the 2021 National High School Finals Rodeo.

Tate Miller, Springview, enters this weekend’s state high school finals in first place in the bareback riding. Photo by Jill Saults

At nationals last year, “I didn’t have the nationals I’d have liked, and my confidence was down, coming into my junior year,” he said. “I’ve won a lot of (high school) rodeos this year, helping get my points up and my confidence built back up. I had a good season, so it boosted my confidence.”

Miller, who will be a senior at Keya Paha County High School this fall, plays football and is a member of the FFA and National Honor Society.

He is the son of Will and Jamie Miller.

BASS

In the boys cutting, Cooper Bass sits atop the leaderboard.

The Brewster cowboy, a graduate of online high school, has had an exceptional year in the cutting. “I’ve done very, very well,” he said. “My mare has been working great.”

He will also come into state finals in first place in the team roping, heading for Zach Bradley, and in a third event, the tie-down roping, in fourteenth place.

Cooper Bass, right, and Zack Bradley team rope at the 2022 Valentine high school rodeo. Bass, of Brewster, leads the boys cutting coming into the weekend’s state finals but will also compete in the team roping. Photo by Steph Miller

Because Bass has taken classes online, he’s had time for a job, working at three different sale barns, sometimes putting in 24 hour shifts. He also rides horses for others, putting 30 days of training on them.

He is the son of Steve and Teresa Bass.

Other leaders (as of press time) heading into the weekend’s finals include Hailey Witte, Crookston (barrel racing); Hunter Boydston, Grover, Colo. (bull riding); Brooke Forre, Newman Grove (girls cutting); Raina Swanson, Genoa (pole bending); Monte Bailey, Lakeside (saddle bronc riding); Sid Miller, Merna (tie-down roping) Brady Renner, Ericson (heeler); and Tatum Olson, Bloomfield (reined cow horse).

The 13 events include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing, boys cutting, girls cutting, reined cow horse and bull riding.

The first go-round takes place June 10 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The second go-round is June 11 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. After the two rounds, the top 10 contestants in each event will advance to the short round on June 12 at 1 p.m. The cutting will be held at 7 a.m. on June 10-11, with the final round at 8 a.m. on June 12. The reined cow horse will be at 10 a.m. on June 10-11.

The top four in each event, after the state finals are over, qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo, held this year in Gillette, Wyo., July 17-23.

The 2022-2023 Miss Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen will be crowned prior to the performance on June 12.

For more information, visit http://www.AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or call (402) 462-3247. For information on the Nebraska State High School Rodeo Association, visit http://www.hsrodeo-nebraska.com.

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