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Wyoming cowgirl named champion

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Las Vegas, Nev. – Nearly 945 contestants from 27 different states and four provinces of Canada under the age of 19 competed Dec. 1-6  in a variety of events at the Mike and Sherrylynn Johnson Vegas Tuffest Junior World Championship.  

                  Wyomingite Haiden Thompson represented the state well by winning the 19-year-old and under goat tying competition with a time of 6.34 seconds, winning over $10,000. 

                  In addition to her success at the Junior World Championship Rodeo, she took home first place on Dec. 7 at the Vegas Stars Breakaway Roping in the 19-year-old and under category. 

Family traditions and events  

                  Thompson, who hangs her hat in Yoder, is the reigning National High School Rodeo Goat Tying Champion and leads the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association fall standings. She is also leading the state in breakaway roping, team roping and sits fourth in barrel racing. 

                  “I have been competing in rodeo for as long as I can remember,” Thompson says. “I have always been around livestock and rodeo.”

                  Growing up with the sport of rodeo means a lot to Thompson, she explains,  and she loves the events she competes in. 

                  “It’s a toss-up between goat tying and breakaway,” she says, noting it is hard to pick just one event she enjoys the most. “I have always loved roping and the goat tying is special because your results are always based upon how much work and effort you put in.” 

                  The family owns over 25 horses on their ranch, but Thompson utilizes four main mounts when she hits the rodeo trail.  

                   “They are all special to me because not only did I train them, but they are part of the reason for the success I have had,” she shares. “We are a team and I’m thankful and blessed with the best teammates.” 

Qualification to the championship

                  The Tuffest Junior World Championship Circuit has four age groups: 19 and under; 15 and under; 12 and under; and 10 and under. Each champion will take home anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 in prize money. Contestants can qualify by buying a membership and winning a Vegas Tuffest qualifier event.  

                  Sherrylynn Johnson, a four-time National Finals qualifier and Tuffest Junior World Championship coordinator shared youth have a few opportunities to qualify for the event. 

 “We held 37 qualifiers across the U.S. and Canada to give rodeo youth an equal chance to make it to Vegas and the opportunity to win their share of $1 million in cash and prizes,” Johnson says.

                  Contestants can compete in barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping, tie-down roping and double mugging – combination of tie-down roping and steer roping.  

                  Thompson competed at a qualifier in Cody earlier this year to help her get to Vegas. In addition to competing at rodeos across the state, her family was fortunate to host a qualifying event for contestants, which ultimately helped her punch her ticket to Vegas, she shares. 

                  Thompson is no stranger to the bright lights of Las Vegas. She has competed at the Tuffest Junior World Championship Rodeo for the past three years – the first year she won the goat tying in the 15 and under competition. 

                  “Last year I didn’t have the results I wanted or prepared for,” Thompson says. “Coming back this year, it felt great to get my revenge on the year I had prior.”

Advice and future goals 

                  Thompson will be graduating high school in May of 2022 and will be attending college. Her goals include starting her professional career in the sport of rodeo and winning the breakaway roping at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.        

                  She offers advice to the next generation of rodeo, saying, “If you’re not working harder than everyone else, then there is someone out there working hard than you.” 

                  “Your results are based upon the work and preparation leading up to the event,” she concludes. “If you work hard, did the best you could with the stock you drew and did what you know how to do, let everything else fall into place and be thankful.”  

Wyoming strong 

                  Several other contestants represented the Cowboy State at the Tuffest Junior World Championship Rodeo. Hadley Furnival, who attends Natrona County High School, finished second  in the 19 and under breakaway roping, clocking a time of 3.08 seconds. In the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association after the fall season, she is sitting seventh in the state in breakaway roping and ninth in barrel racing. This summer, Furnival’s biggest accomplishment was bringing home the state championship in breakaway roping and competing at the National High School Finals in Lincoln, Neb. 

                  Tavy Leno of Sheridan also competed in the breakaway roping, finishing ninth in the short round and winning $1,050.  Leno won the average in goat tying in Las Vegas by bringing home $5,000 in prize money. She has qualified for the High School National Finals Rodeo three times. 

                  Rodeo is important to the Thompson family, as Hadley Thompson, Haiden’s sister also competed in the 15 and under goat tying event and winning over $5,000. The family is very proud of both daughters.          

                  The sport of rodeo has a bright future with youth contestants punching tickets from across the U.S. and Canada to compete in Las Vegas. 

                  Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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