Fri Aug 4th, 2017
Special to the Drum
Knowing he needed something special to remain in contention at the 69th Annual National High School Finals Rodeo, 2017 Ignacio High School graduate and saddle bronc rider, Mark Kempinski was determined not to let the second go-round pressure break him.
“It’s a make-or-break for me!” he’d said from Gillette, Wyoming, via Facebook Messenger. “I’ve been working hard to make it here … With the competition, I’m holding up. I didn’t come this far to give up,” Kempinski said.
But in the end, the broncs, beneath he and other entrants, determined the beastly spectacle’s true nature.
Unsuccessful in his second-go attempt Thursday night, July 20, inside the CAM-PLX Multi-Event Facilities’ Morningside Park, Kempinski would – rank 40th in the average when the decisive third, or short go was completed two nights later.
“All the glory to God,” said Kempinski. “He’s the reason I’ve gotten to where I am today, and I’m gonna give it my best from the ol’ Colorado side!”
Part of a well-known and extensive PRCA rodeo family, Milford, Utah’s Stetson Wright won the short go with an 80-point ride, bettering 79s by Will Pollock (Utopia, Tex.) and Houston Brown (Miles City, Mont.), and a 77 by Idabel, Oklahoma’s Brett Coffman. Yet after all the dust had settled, Brown was tops in the average, covering three head for a total of 234 (82-73-79) points.
Via his short-go 77, Coffman rode into second place with a 216 (70-69-77) and Leon, Iowa’s Chance Masters took third with a steady 215 (68-79-68). Sanger, California’s Reed Neely followed with a 214 (68-70-76) and Winterset, Iowa’s Tegan Smith (79-44-75) tied Wall, South Dakota’s Cash Wilson (75-57-66) for fifth at 198.