Thu Jul 6th, 2017
Special to the Drum
When Rifle High Schooler Colten Fritzlan established himself early in the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association season as the bull rider to beat – logging apparently the only scoring ride in the initial two Eagle, Colo., rodeos, and then two winning rides in three Cortez sessions – it didn’t exactly come as a surprise.
He’d competed in multiple National Junior High School Finals Rodeos, and if that wasn’t enough, he’d reportedly sometimes asked Gary Leffew – prominently featured in a few episodes of MTV’s notorious comedy “Jackass” – for advice and review of his rides. Leffew is reputed to have done a bull-riding ‘camp’ in June at Fritzlan’s house.
So when Fritzlan clinched the season-end points title, 88-57 over Loveland Thompson Valley’s Tommy Patrick and 88-56.50 over Collbran Plateau Valley’s Tucker Gately, it wasn’t exactly a stunner either; he’d had such a lead that it didn’t matter if he failed to cover at least one bull at the CSHSRA Finals, May 25-29 at the Sand & Sage Fairgrounds in Lamar – where Riley Smith (63) of Penrose/Florence H.S. and fellow Rifle-man Colt Rohrig (61) registered the only two scoring rides.
Smith (38) finished fourth in the final standings, followed by Wyatt Noe (27.50) of Larkspur/Castle Rock Castle View H.S., Rohrig (27), RHS’ Cole Morgan (20) and Ignacio’s Stocker Robbins (18).
Close behind were fellow Bobcats and Basin Rodeo Club members, Dalton Mickey (10th, ten points), Dustin Sanchez (11th, eight), Lorenzo Pena (13th) and Hunter Robbins (17th).
So though a National High School Finals Rodeo-qualifying top-four result in the roughest rough-stock specialty may have eluded the quintet, the season will still continue at a similarly high level for some.
After finishing between fifth and 15th in the CSHSRA’s season-end points, Stocker Robbins, Mickey and Sanchez have all qualified [Pena and Hunter Robbins were shown in the table as having zero points] to ride in Winnemucca, Nevada, at the 32nd Annual Silver State International Rodeo.
Scheduled for July 3-8 at the Winnemucca Events Center, and different from the 7/13-15 Silver State Stampede (featuring PRCA action) in Elko, Nev., the SSIR concludes eight days before the NHSFR gets going in Gillette, Wyoming.
According to information provided by Basin Rodeo Club representative Jessie Sanchez, the trio will have to be checked in by noon Monday, July 3, and will ride in two go-rounds with the deciding short go set for Saturday, July 8.
After tying for ninth in the UHSRA season-end points last summer, South Utah County Rodeo Club member and Provo, Utah, High Schooler Coy Proctor – now with a handful of PRCA appearances under his buckle – won the bull riding feature at the 2016 SSIR, totaling 74 points on two head. Dalton McCaslin of Grover, Wyo., and Afton Star Valley H.S. covered just one for a second-place 58.
Colorado’s last bull-riding champ at the Silver State International was Ault Highland’s Brandon Zeller in 2005.
During the 2016-17 CSHSRA campaign, Stocker Robbins recorded Basin Rodeo’s first bull-riding victory in the first of two fall rodeos in Montrose, with his 72 beating Fritzlan’s 67 and Gately’s 66 (Gately’s 66 in the second held up as a winner at the Montrose County Fairgrounds, giving him the average title).
Robbins then placed third in both Elizabeth, Colo., stops, scoring a 59 – the last scoring ride at the event – in the latter.
Dustin Sanchez’s first reported scoring ride finally came the first weekend in May at the first of two stops in Rifle – hosted by Fritzlan and the Northwestern Rodeo Club – with a 49 (Gately and Noe tied for first with 71s). Mickey’s first scoring ride, and triumph, then came the next day via a Basin-best 74 which bettered Patrick’s 69.
NEXT STOP, NATIONALS
Tall in the saddle as well as, well, general stature, IHS’ Mark Kempinski finished fifth in CSHSRA saddle bronc action this season, registering nine points. Logan Kenline of Penrose and Florence H.S. won with 80, followed by Lakewood’s Danny Prior (47), Fritzlan (30) and Bailey Platte Canyon’s Kole Ashmore (28).
Under normal mathematical circumstances, Kempinski would likely be prepping to travel to Nevada. But because Colorado’s number-one placer (Kenline) broke a leg sometime between then and now, Kempinski qualified as an alternate for the NHSFR – joining Mickey and Sanchez, who will compete in rifle shooting.
According to the Finals’ unofficial draw sheet, viewed Thursday, June 29, Kempinski is slated to ride in Performance #4 Tuesday morning, July 18, and Perf #9 Thursday evening, July 20, at the CAM-PLEX Multi-Event Facilities’ Morningside Park. Mickey and Sanchez will both take aim downrange the morning of the 18th at the Gillette Gun Club.
“Kids and family try hard to make it work and to be a part of Nationals. They raise money with fundraising, they have family that can help, savings from rodeo winnings…. Rodeo is the last true family sport,” Jessie Sanchez stated proudly via e-mail. “We cannot buy a pair of running shoes and put them on a bus, say ‘Good luck, call me when you get back.’”
“We pack horses, clothes, and kids, drive hundreds of miles to compete, spend time in the trucks and trailers with each other,” Sanchez said. “This is why rodeo families are closely connected to each other.”