When it comes to high school rodeos, no event is bigger than the National High School Rodeo Finals. While most cowboys and cowgirls dream about competing on such a grand stage, few earn the opportunity.
Count local cowboys Jake Cruzan and Tanner Lockhart among those few. Competing at the National High School Finals Rodeo, held in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 14-20, Cruzan and Lockhart were impressive. Finishing in the top 10 in the nation in their respective events, both cowboys left Wyoming pleased with their performances and eager to continue their rodeo careers.
Coming off two state championships at the Colorado State High School Rodeo Finals in June, Cruzan competed in the boys’ cutting and the boys’ team roping events. Cruzan performed well in both events, reminding everyone of what makes him such a special cowboy.
In the boys’ cutting event, Cruzan placed 47th overall with a score of 131. Cruzan’s final score followed an especially impressive performance in the second go in which he placed 11th with a score of 140.
After his performance in the cutting, Cruzan paired with fellow Coloradan Taten Koenig to place second overall in the team roping competition. Demonstrating the strong teamwork that made the tandem a force all year, Cruzan and Koenig placed 20th in the first round with a score of 10.51. In the second round, Koenig and Cruzan improved their position by placing 12th with a time of 7.73. In the short go, Cruzan and Koenig again improved, placing fourth with a time of 9.42. The pair’s overall time of 27.66 was good enough to place them second overall.
“Our main goal was to go in and rope like we did all year,” said a visibly pleased Cruzan. “We were the most consistent team all year in Colorado. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
Another cowboy who should be equally proud of what he accomplished this rodeo season is Tanner Lockhart. Coming off a second place finish in the saddle bronc event at the Colorado High School Rodeo Finals, Lockhart was almost as successful on the national stage.
After being bucked off in the first round, Lockhart came back strong with a fifth-place score of 70 points in the second round. In the short go, Lockhart placed eighth, which was good enough to vault him into ninth place overall.
Overall, both Cruzan and Lockhart represented both the Cortez area and the state of Colorado well. As a state, Colorado placed third overall with a total of 6,412 points.
Both juniors in high school, Cruzan and Lockhart will look to build on their recent successes during the upcoming high school rodeo season. While it is impossible to know for certain how the upcoming season might play out, it seems likely that Cruzan and Lockhart will again be among the best in not only the state of Colorado, but also the entire nation.