Johnson scored well in girls' cutting and pole bending during the June 11-14 Oregon High School Rodeo Association championships in Princeville.

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Colton High School's Makayla Johnson finished fourth in the average and sixth overall in pole bending at the Oregon High School Rodeo Associations championships in Prineville two weeks ago.Colton’s Makayla Johnson has the horses and the know-how to hold her own against some of the top rodeo cowgirls in the state.

The next test for the junior-to-be comes at the 66th Annual National High School Finals Rodeo on July 13-19 in Rock Springs, Wyo., where she will compete in pole bending and girls’ cutting.

“I’ve got to get more consistent,” Johnson said before competing Saturday in a cutting competition at Molalla’s Bar 88 Arena. “I’m just trying to push myself and give it everything, because I have the horses to do well.

“It’s just about having the right mindset for nationals, because it’s such a big rodeo and there’s so much pressure.”

Johnson qualified for the national finals after finishing fourth in the average and fifth overall in girls’ cutting, while finishing fourth in the average and sixth overall in pole bending at the June 11-14 Oregon High School Rodeo Association championships in Prineville.

In cutting, horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time.

Johnson only started cutting in late February and early March, which made her state finals performance aboard Bennie that much more impressive.

Johnson and Bennie placed sixth in the first go round with a score of 133, fifth in the second go round with a 131, and third in the short go round with another 131.

“That was kind of cool that I qualified for nationals in cutting and I’d only been cutting for a short time,” Johnson said. “My score was decent, but I didn’t get very good cows.”

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Colton's Makayla Johnson capped her sophomore season with a strong showing at the OHSRA championships in Prineville.Pole bending is a timed event where horse and rider run a weaving path around six poles that are spaced 21 feet apart.

Johnson has been using several pole horses this year, including her two primary horses, Gunner and Kassi. Gunner had been off the last part of the season, so Johnson ran Kasssi and Jasmine at the state finals.

Johnson was sixth aboard Kassi in the first go round with a time of 21.693 seconds, then was eighth aboard Jasmine in the second go round with a 22.287, and then finished eighth aboard Kassi in the short go round with a 21.896.

“The times were OK, but not my best,” Johnson said. “The 22 that I ran was on my mom’s horse, Jasmine, and it was only her third time ever getting a time and she placed, so that was really exciting.

“On the short go, my third run, I hit a pole, but I grabbed it as I was running and picked it up and set it back up. That was kind of cool. It was really crazy, because we have it on video and it moved about 2 feet from me setting it back up, but it counted, so that was exciting, too.”

Competitors are allowed only one horse per event at national finals, so Johnson has to decide which one to take. Kassi, her 19-year-old paint horse has been to the national finals four times with a previous owner and made it to the Silver State International Rodeo in Nevada last year with Johnson as a freshman.

“Kassi has been doing pole bending for a long time,” Johnson said. “I’d like to breed Kassi, so I can have another little horse like her. She might go to nationals. I haven’t decided yet.”

Johnson also thanked her parents Shawna and Randy Johnson, and her maternal grandparents Cheryl and George Adams, for their support and inspiration, which has helped make this opportunity possible.

The national finals rodeo has been dubbed the “World’s Largest Rodeo” and feature more than 1,500 contestants from 42 U.S. State and five provinces in Canada and Australia. There are 13 performances scheduled over seven days, with the top 20 competitors in each event advancing to the final round.

In other state finals results, Molalla’s Kelsi Eastman placed ninth is breakaway roping and was 10th in goat tying, making her eligible to compete in both events at the Silver State International Rodeo on June 29-July 5 in Fallon, Nev.

Eastman won the short go round in breakaway roping with a time of 3.15 seconds and finished seventh in the average.

In goat tying, Eastman was eighth in the first go round with a time of 10.67, finished out of the top 10 in the second go round, was ninth in the short go round with an 11.47, and was ninth in the average.

Jim Beseda / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(503) 829-2301

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