State rodeo finals kick off
- Lon Austin
- Central Oregonian - Features
>Seven Crook County athletes to compete in state finals rodeoWhen the Oregon High School Rodeo State Finals gets underway later this week, seven Crook County athletes will be competing for spots at the national finals.
Action starts on Wednesday when the boys and girls cutting competition will be held at the Willis Ranch in Culver.
Crook County’s McKennan Buckner is one of the favorites in the event. Buckner is currently in second place with 83 points, six points behind current state leader Will Hulden.
Buckner is also one of the favorites in team roping. He and partner Dayton Stafford have qualified for nationals each of the last three seasons. The duo currently has 71 points. Redmond’s T.J. McCauley has 72 points. However, his partner, Ryan Opie, has only 64 points, leaving Buckner and Stafford in first place going into the state finals.
Stafford will also compete in the state finals in tie down roping where he is currently ranked 13th.
Several other Crook County athletes also have an opportunity to win event titles.
Jesse Loper is the current state leader in goat tying with 76 points. She is followed closely by a pair of Crook County athletes — sisters Courtney and Carly Hibbs. Courtney is second in the standings with 67.5 points while Carly is in fifth with 55 points.
Carly Hibbs is also competing in breakaway roping (8th), and pole bending (14th), while Loper will compete in team roping.
Barrel racer Harley Byram should also contend for a state title. Byrum is third in the standings with 58 points. Callahan Crossley leads the event with 77 points.
The final Crook County athlete who is expected to challenge for a state title is James Beatty. Beatty won the state championship in light rifle last year as well as placing fourth in trap shooting. The sophomore is looking to retain his title in light rifle as well as move up in the trap standings. Beatty is also competing in steer wrestling where he is 17th in the standings.
Crook County will also be represented by Talia Radabaugh who is 19th in pole bending going into the state finals.
Several other members of the Tri-County Rodeo Club are also expected to contend for team titles.
Wyatt Bloom (Alfalfa), Donovan Orr (Terrebonne), and David Peebles (Redmond) should all contend for the state bareback championships, while brothers T.J. and A.J. McCauley of Redmond will challenge for the steer wrestling title.
T.J. McCauley should also contend for a title in tie down roping.
Also in the mix for a state title is Culver’s Stevie Rae Willis who will compete in barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying, and cutting. Her best chance to win a state title should be in barrel racing where she is second in the standings.
The top four finishers in each event will qualify for the national finals, which will be contested later this summer.
Rodeo events start Thursday morning at 10 a.m., when the first go round of all timed events will be contested at the Crook County Fairgrounds. Thursday night at 6 p.m., will be the first round of the rough stock events as well as the second go-round in timed events for individuals who are 10th to 20th in the standings after the first go round.
Friday morning at 8 a.m., the shooting events will be contested at the Redmond Gun Club. Then rodeo action continues with performances at 6 p.m., Friday evening and noon Saturday.
Awards will be presented at a banquet beginning at 7 p.m., Saturday evening at Carey Foster Hall.