Second shot: Sanchez returning to NHSFR

courtesy Dustin Sanchez
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

IHS senior hopes for better rifle result in Wyoming

‘Mini’ by nickname on the football field and the wrestling mat, Dustin Sanchez is hoping for as maximum a result as possible when he makes his return this month to the National High School Finals Rodeo.

“I just want to make top-ten, you know, and see what that’s like,” said the Ignacio High School senior, who will head up to Rock Springs, Wyoming, for the grand gathering July 15-21.  “Because I finished middle-of-the-pack last year, and just want to break…into that section.”

“You know, last year when I went for shooting, I was really shaky,” he added, recalling his 2017 experience in Gillette, Wyo.  “I really didn’t know, like, if I was good enough and I didn’t do too good.  So this year I’m going up and hoping to shoot pretty well.”

Part of the Colorado Line Riders Club, Sanchez finished third in the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association’s year-end rifle points, trailing only State Finals-winning Cauy Pennington of Kiowa and Dalley Gibson of La Junta.  At State, held May 24-28 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in Craig, the right-handed Sanchez fired a three-round 558 (242-149-167) and placed fifth overall.

Fourth with a 583, Mesa’s Jordan Miner also finished fourth in points—clinching the final NHSFR berth.

“All the kids you shoot with are pretty good, so it’s nice I get to go up there, shoot, and hang out in Wyoming for a couple days,” said Sanchez, who also ended the 2017-18 CSHSRA season tied for eighth in bull riding (Friday morning, June 29, he informed this writer he still stood No. 1 in the money for the 2018 True West Rodeo summer series in Durango, despite a buck-off Wednesday, 6/27).  “It’s pretty cool.”

“I’m working to make myself better,” he continued, alluding to his rough-stock passion, “because I have eight rodeos in the next seven days over the Fourth of July, a.k.a. ‘Cowboy Christmas.’”

As of press time, the NHSFR website noted that the unofficial draw sheet, detailing all qualifiers and their expected competition time slots, would be posted by Saturday, July 7.  After arriving at the Sweetwater Events Complex and officially checking in, all entrants will then sit through a mandatory information meeting Sunday morning, July 15, in the SEC grandstands.

The .22-cal ‘light rifle’ action will then begin at 10:00 a.m. on the 17th at the Green River Shooting Range.

When asked why he enjoys rodeo as a whole, not just because of bullets or bulls, Sanchez simply replied, “It’s just something that not everybody gets to do.  Like, all the people at school say they’d never ride a bull, “It’s too scary,” but in hindsight…it’s fun, you know?” he said.  “And you get to travel a lot; I’ve been all over the Four Corners these past couple years.”

ONE OF THREE

Sanchez will represent La Plata County at the NHSFR along with home-schooled Madison Story of Bayfield, and Durango High School grad Lexie Crawford of Hesperus.

“We’re all pretty good friends,” said Sanchez.  “Lexie’s one of my closer friends, and she’s going up there for cutting.  Maddie made it in poles, and she’s pretty good.”

A fellow Line Rider, Crawford not only placed first at the State Finals, scoring a three-phase 210 at the MCFG, but also finished atop the year-end standings (Miner ranked seventh) en route to securing her own return to nationals, at which she finished tied for 51st in 2017.

After tying Berthoud’s Ava Zonneveld for fourth in pole-bending points following three successful rides at State (landing her third in the average), Story—a member of the Basin High School Rodeo team—will be making her first appearance at the ‘World’s Largest Rodeo,’ which regularly attracts over 1,500 contestants.

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