Goshen County trio qualify for NHSFR in July; High school finals rodeo is scheduled for July 16-22 in Gillette

Andrew Towne
Posted 6/20/23

GOSHEN COUNTY – Kyler Cark, Hadley Thompson and Baliegh Lane punched their tickets to the National Finals High School Rodeo with a strong showing during the 2022-23 high school rodeo season.

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Goshen County trio qualify for NHSFR in July; High school finals rodeo is scheduled for July 16-22 in Gillette


GOSHEN COUNTY – Kyler Cark, Hadley Thompson and Baliegh Lane punched their tickets to the National Finals High School Rodeo with a strong showing during the 2022-23 high school rodeo season.

The trio placed in the top four of the final state standings at the conclusion of the recently held state finals in Rock Springs, qualifying them for NHSFR which will be held July 16-22 at the Camplex Event Center in Gillette.

It won’t be the first trip to nationals for Clark and Lane, while it will be the first trip to the high school finals for Thompson.

Thompson, of Yoder, will be the busiest of the trio, qualifying in goat tying, breakaway roping, barrel racing and pole bending. 

Thompson raked in the achievements in Rock Springs, winning All-Around Cowgirl Champion, WYHSRA Goat Tying State Champion, WYHSRA Breakaway Roping State Champion and WYHSRA Rookie Cowgirl of the Year.

Even though it will be her first trip to nationals at the high school level, Thompson is no stranger to being on the big stage having qualified for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.

Thompson set the bar high for herself, eyeing the all-around title.

“I’m really excited about it and having that many events, and I’m hoping to put good runs together, and honestly, I’m going for the all-around title,” she said.

She knows it’s going to take a lot of work to accomplish as freshman.

“I would have to do well in all my events and bring in enough points to get this accomplished,” Thompson said. “I’m preparing for it and hoping for the best.”

Trying to balance competing in four events won’t be a problem for Thompson.

“Since I’ve been young, I’ve always done all the events, so it’s something that I’ve always done,” she said. “You have to keep a good mindset, take it one run at a time and do the best you can.”

With the rodeo being held back in Wyoming again, Thompson says it does add a home arena advantage of sort.

“It helps my horses out a lot because they don’t have to go as far,” They are used to our weather. We know a lot of people in Gillette and won’t have to keep our horses in stalls. We’ll be able to keep our horses off ground at some friend’s house.”

It’s an arena which both Thompson and her horses have competed in the past.

“My horses are comfortable there, and that makes me more comfortable,” she said. "It makes you feel more prepared.”

Clark, of Yoder, will be making his second trip to nationals in team roping. This trip will feature a new roping partner in Royce Breeden, of Carpenter.

“I started the year with a new roping partner. I wanted to see if a switch would work, and we started roping last fall,” Clark said. “We roped alright early in the season. We didn’t have the fall we were looking for. We got on a roll this spring and carried it into the state finals.”

As a team, Clark and Breeden finished third in the final standings, scoring 182 points for the season.

The similar roping styles brought the two together, and with the proximity of the two, they are able to compete and practice a lot together.

They competed at a lot of rodeos over the summer and the success spilled over into the high school season.

Clark will be treating nationals just like he would any other rodeo.

“There will be a lot of people from all over the state, and there are kids your age with the same level of drive as you and talent as you.”

Adding, it all comes down to confidence.

“All it takes is two really solid runs,” Clark said of getting to Saturday’s championship round. “You make sure you get your first one down, and then see what you have to do on your second run.”

Lane, of Torrington, qualified for the NHSFR in girls’ cutting and reined cow horse.

Two events which are not a typical rodeo event, and it’s all about control of your horse and cow.

“Both of them originated working on the ranch,” Lane explained. “Cutting would be like if you are in a branding pen and trying to sort cows off and keep them off the herd. It’s kind of a spinoff of that.

“In reined cow horse, at our level, we do two different events with it. We do the rein work,” she added. “We’ll do maneuvers like spins, stops, lead changes, and our cow work, we will box a cow on whatever end it comes out on. You basically keep it on the short end of the arena, and you get how many ever turns on that cow where you feel like you are in control of the cow. Then you’ll run it down to the other side of the arena, and you’ll get typically two turns sometimes three. Then you’ll circle the cow in the center of the arena in both directions.”

Lane finished third in the state standings with 189.25 points in reined cow horse and second in cutting with 228.5 points.

The cutting and reined cow horse event schedule doesn’t follow the regular rodeo schedule, and they don’t have as many events.

“Last fall we had quite a few cutting and reined cow horse events, and we cut throughout the winter in Thermopolis for points,” Lane said. “This spring, we had three or four of each.”

The two events don’t have as many competitors as the other rodeo events.

“They aren’t as popular,” Lane said. “For girls’ cutting, we normally have six that enter. If you place pretty consistently during the season, you’re in a pretty good spot going into state.”

Cutting is both timed and judged, while the other event is just judged.

In reined cow horse, Lane said the competition has gotten stronger since her freshman year. She also added, the event is also co-ed, not split up like cutting is.

It will be Lane’s first trip to nationals for reined cow horse event, but she qualified her freshman and sophomore years.

The 2023 edition of the NHSFR marks the 75th anniversary of the event and will feature more than 1,700 contestants from 44 states, five Canadian Provinces, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.