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Wyoming bull rider claims National High School rodeo title

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Rock Springs – After a week of grueling competition and nearly 1,500 cowboys and cowgirls from across the U.S., Canada and Australia, Wyoming’s representatives at the National High School Finals Rodeo saw some positive results.

Arvada bull rider Bryce Burnell was particularly successful, claiming the title of National High School Finals Rodeo champion.

Overall, Burnell rode all three head, giving him 225 total points. He stood more than 30 points over the second place rider. In the short round, Burnell posted an 82 point ride.

Riding bulls

This year marked Burnell’s third year at the National High School Finals Rodeo.

Going into the event, Burnell held the top spot in bull riding for Wyoming. After his first round, with 76 points, Burnell was sitting at fourth place. His second ride – worth 67 points – boosted him into the short-go.

It was after the second round that he realized he had a chance at the national title and understood that to make it happen, he would have to be calm and ride the bull.

“I didn’t even think about winning the whole thing,” Burnell told reporters. “I just focused on getting my bull rode.”

Burnell adds, “It seems like a long time when you are on the back of a bull. Eight seconds seems like a minute, but it’s a heck of an adrenaline rush.”

While he admits being nervous before the ride, Burnell also adds that long-time mentor and bull riding national champion Bobby Welsh of Gillette gave him some advice on the bull.

“Bobby Welsh told me a lot of good things about the bulls,” he says, noting that the former champion came to the rodeo to support him. 

On riding three bulls, Burnell was one of two cowboys that were able to cover all three.

Future plans

“It feels pretty good to win,” Burnell says. “It’s really big for my career of being a rodeo cowboy. It will help a lot.”

Burnell will continue on to Casper College next year to ride for the rodeo team there.

“Anybody can be in the PRCA,” he commented. “It’s just a matter of how good you are. Winning this is really going to help me a lot. In pro rodeo today, you have to have a name to do any good. In my opinion, it’s all about the name.”

He added, “I just gave myself a name.” 

State results

Overall, Wyoming contestants compiled scores to place the state ninth in the nation, with a total of 3770 points. The girls from Wyoming ended in the eighth place slot with 1795 points, and the boys took the ninth spot with 1975 points.

Fourteen Wyoming cowboys and cowgirls earned recognition for their top 20 finish.

Ending fifth in both the short go and the average, Chloe Ashenhurst of Wheatland totaled 60.162 seconds in her three attempts at pole bending. She stopped the clock after 20.196 seconds in the short go.

Daniel cowboy Tanner Butner posted a total score of 134 in saddle bronc riding, landing him in the seventh spot overall. Butner also took third place in the short round with a score of 70 points.

Also in saddle bronc, Brody Cress of Hillsdale placed 14th with a score of 76.

Team ropers Cam Irwin of Buffalo and Weston Mann of Sheridan roped their way to 12th place with a total time of 19.55 seconds.

In the bareback riding, Sheridan cowboy Jeffery Zdziarski took the 14th position in the average results with a score of 130, and Gillette’s Justin Kissack ended 19th with a score of 94.

Casey Rae Reimler of Rozet finished 13th in breakaway roping with a time of 5.77, and Madison Haun of Torrington followed close behind with 7.35 seconds, dropping her in the 19th spot.

In goat typing, Ashten Marchant of Newcastle ended at 19th with a time of 17.4 seconds.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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