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Rhoden nabs 15th in barrels at CNFR

McLean finishes in 38th in barrel racing, could be final time to CNFR
Kaki McLean has a lot on her plate.
   The 2001 Crook County High School graduate competed at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., last week and, with one more year of eligibility, she doesn't know if she'll be back next year.
   McLean, who is getting her nursing degree from Oregon Health Sciences University and is set to be the new head volleyball coach at Eastern Oregon University, competed in barrel racing at the CNFR. And with her 38th place finish in the event, she says she was disappointed with her final standing.
   McLean hit a barrel in her first two go's, compiling times of 19.84 and 19.67 seconds, respectively. In her third go, she clocked a time of 15.01 seconds. Her total time was 54.52 seconds.
   "It was very disappointing, especially to know that I could have done well in both rounds," McLean said about her first two go's. "My horse ran very well. I hit a barrel in both races, but I'm still happy how she performed."
   This was McLean's second time to the CNFR (last year she finished in 12th place with a total time of 63.66 seconds) and with her full schedule, she remains unsure if she'll be able to compete next year, but says that rodeo will be a part of her future.
   Meanwhile, barrel racer Jackie Rhoden, a graduate of CCHS in 2005, rode off with a total time of 44.82 seconds, good enough for 15th place. Rhoden, in her first time at the CNFR and a freshman at Blue Mountain Community College, had three go times of 15.39, 14.73, and 14.7 seconds, respectively. Her final finish placed her in ninth for the go-round.
   "My first run, I was a little hesitant," Rhoden said. "My next two runs, it was all or nothing. I was a little disappointed with myself in the first run. I think I could have made the short round, but it was my first year."
   Rhoden made three clean runs in her three go's, not knocking over any barrels, which she said was something that she was worried about.
   "It was a lot more relaxed than the high school finals," Rhoden said. "It was a lot more fun. It was a higher level of competition, so I liked it a lot."
   One of Rhoden's teammates on the Crook County rodeo team that went to the high school finals with her last year was Sean Santucci, who was also present at the CNFR. Santucci, a freshman at Walla Walla Community College, was steer wrestling champion in the Northwest Region this year.
   Santucci received a first go time of 6.2 seconds, but failed to record a time in his second try. In his third go, Santucci wrestled the steer in 4.4 seconds, which placed him fourth for the round, and gave him a total time of 10.6 seconds. Santucci finished overall in 26th place.
   Santucci could not be reached by press deadline for comment.
   Another CC rodeo team member, Kelsey Johnson, a freshman at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo, competed in two events at the CNFR: breakaway and team roping.
   In breakaway, Johnson came out strong, recording a first go time of 3.1 seconds, which put her in sixth. However, in her second go, she didn't record a time, and fell to 29th place for the go.
   "I drew a calf that ran real hard and I missed him," Johnson said. "He was running faster than I thought he was going to and I just missed him."
   Johnson's third go time of 2.7 seconds put her in fourth for the go, and placed her 17th overall for the event.
   In team roping, Johnson roped the head all three tries but her partner, Joe Nash of Feather River College, a heeler that Johnson hadn't roped with all year, could only rope the heels on the first go.
   "We drew a real bad steer for our second run and my partner missed him," Johnson said. "He ran to the right and we weren't able to get him roped."
   Johnson's first go time was 14.4 seconds and did not receive a time for her second and third go's.
   Nonetheless, Johnson is appreciative and says she will use this experience in the year's to come.
   "I was happy to qualify as a freshman and hopefully, I'll qualify for the next three years.
   "I think it was a great learning experience and I know exactly what I'll do next year."