Sanchez clinches State title

Flanked by CSHSRA Rodeo Queen Ky Murphy at center and CSHSRA President Jack Beach at right, Ignacio's Dustin Sanchez stands at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in Craig, Colo. with prizes befitting Colorado's top high-school bullrider.
Ignacio's Dustin Sanchez comes out of the chute at the CSHSRA State Finals at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in Craig, Colo.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Nationals berth IHS bullrider on top of his game in Craig

Missing graduation Saturday, May 25, at Ignacio High School unfortunately couldn’t be avoided.

But while entered in the 2019 Colorado State High School Rodeo Association Finals at the Moffat County Fairgrounds up in Craig, Colo. IHS senior Dustin Sanchez not only took part in a special ‘rodeo graduation’ on the 26th, but the next day took part and parcel the top prize in his rough-stock specialty.

And earned a place in this summer’s nationals, to boot — pun intended.

After posting no score in the first go-round, Sanchez logged an 82-point ride in the second which stood as the competition’s best overall effort.  In the deciding short go, he then received a 70 from the judges—good enough for second place in the go, and good enough to earn first in the average with 152 points on two head.

“I was just sitting on that bull, and he sat against the latch when I called for him,” Sanchez said Thursday afternoon, May 30, recalling his peak performance which, coming out of the chute, gave no hint it would be such a thing.  “He kind of stalled out before I could get him to go out!  And everything…. It felt like I was out of whack the whole time!  But I watched my video; I was riding him just how I should have.”

Cortez-area entrant Cooper McClain, who won the short go with a 72, took second with 143/2 figures.

Having placed second by one point, 74-73, to Walsenburg’s Christopher McKenna up in Greeley’s Island Grove Regional Park on Day 1 of the last stop (May 11-12) before State, Sanchez’s 29 total points in Craig upped his 2018-19 count to a championship-winning 107 while McClain’s 28-point take boosted his to 64.5.  Hayden’s Keenan Hayes gained 16 points at the MCFG and increased his year-end haul to a third-place 46.

“You know, I was pretty speechless when I won it,” said Sanchez, referring to the CSHSRA State Championship.  “I’d worked so hard for stuff and nothing’s panned out…the way I wanted it to, so I was like, ‘Is this even happening to me?’”

The 2019 National High School Finals Rodeo is set for July 14-20 at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyo.

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