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Kaci Kamm ropes in the breakaway in the Oregon state finals. (EO file photo)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — For some of the most decorated and experienced Intermountain High School Rodeo Team members, only one week of events stands between them and the end of their amateur rodeo statuses. For graduated seniors like Michael Pederson, Koty Kamm and Callahan Crossley, only the 2012 National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., remains.

The national finals begin Sunday at the Sweetwater Events Complex and feature one of the largest entry fields of any rodeo in the country. The top four finishers from a year’s worth of rodeo events from each state — along with several Canadian provinces and some international countries — earned a trip to Wyoming and a chance to win a national title.

The competitors will run through two performances each day from Sunday through the following Saturday. The short-go final round will take place on Saturday, July 21, at 7 p.m.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

After six weeks of searching that included two rounds of applications, the Pendleton Buckaroos have found their new head football coach, pending school board approval of course.

Erik Davis, an assistant football coach at Western Oregon University, will take over the head football job at Pendleton High School this fall while also teaching health and physical education classes.

“Erik, he has got a football mind,” said Pendleton Athletic Director Troy Jerome, who sat on the district’s hiring committee. “He’s very knowledgeable about the game. That knowledge and being able to relate to high school players will be some of his biggest pluses.”


 
 
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Daniel Naughton comes home for the winning run. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ADAMS — Four balls.

Four balls equal one walk. In this case that one walk generated Pendleton's fourth run of the sixth inning. And as Ryan Stahl advanced 60 feet to first, the loaded bases shifted in turn, bringing home David Naughton.

One walk, one final run, one District 3 championship.

Pendleton built a final-inning rally like nothing else its offense had produced earlier in the contest to cap a comeback for a 8-7 victory Thursday, earning the team a spot in the Little League all-star state tournament later this month.


 
 
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Pendleton congratulates Brody Kincade. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ADAMS — When the La Grande 9/10-year-olds scored, they put up runs in bunches. And unfortunately for the Pendleton Little League all-stars, La Grande scored in every one of its offensive innings Thursday.

La Grande owned the District 3 championship game in Adams, beating Pendleton 14-1 and wrapping up summer baseball for the locals. Besides first-place medals, the La Grande boys also won the opportunity to represent District 3 at the state Little League tournament in Lake Oswego next weekend.

The first game there is scheduled for Friday, July 13.


 
 
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Jaylee Britt of Hermiston posted an 89-point ride. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Though his landing spot didn’t provide much padding, just chewed up chunks of dirt and the occasional bull dropping, Cody Ford sprung off the ground and to his feet like a kid bouncing off a bed. It took the Hermiston bull rider eight seconds to master his beast — aptly named Buck Off — but only a split second to regain his footing.

Ford thrust both hands into the cool Pendleton night air, unbuckling his jet black helmet and launching it upward until it was lost among the equally dense and dark night sky. His was a curtain call, a feat best enjoyed in front of one’s home town — or at least an arena 25 miles down the Interstate from it.

“Great bull. Great bull,” Ford said, out of breath as much from the ride as his exuberance that immediately followed. “My weekend hasn’t been near as good as I’d planned it here. I got knocked a little bit loopy on that last one and this one I was just trying to get it done. That last bull, just a great bull.”


 
 
Video by Eric Keto/East Oregonian Publishing Co.
 
 

Watch the video here!

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Tara Lawrence rounds a barrel. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Three hours had passed since Amy McHale rounded the barrels inside the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds on Wednesday. Nearly 100 riders had repeated her path, up the right or left dirt sides of the arena, splitting across the field of green grass in the middle before turning into the dead sprint from the far side of the oval.

The riders followed in the horseshoe prints of McHale’s Chasndreamsof Gold and each one failed to live up to the cowgirl’s time of 29.578 seconds on Pendleton’s famous barrel racing pattern.

Then Reiney Hatch came along.

Hatch, No. 101 in the field of 106 entries, knocked McHale from the top of the leaderboard with a 29.402-second ride. A new leader, and the eventual winner of the PGG Independence Day 4D barrel races, came as a shock, a strike of lightning out of calm skies, surprising everyone including Hatch.


 
 
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Skeeter Kingsolver gets rolled by his bull. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — The Happy Canyon Arena attendees poured applause down on Elliot Jacoby as he stood, covered in dust, in front of them. The Texan’s right arm was covered in cling-wrap, pinning it to his body with a massive bag of ice held against his shoulder.

His post-ride accessory made him look like a pitcher fresh off a grueling baseball start, icing his money-maker in preparation for the next game. But Jacoby’s broken collarbone presented a stark reminder that the cowboy is a different kind of boy of summer.

Jacoby rides bulls.


 
 
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Tyler Newsome hit a game-winning double. (Photo AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ATHENA — Pendleton Little Leaguer Tyler Newsome turned the gift-giving birthday custom on its head Monday when his team took on Baker in the District 3 all-star tournament in Athena. While normally the birthday boy could expect presents coming his way, Newsome dished out one big gift to his teammates.

Newsome, who turned 11 on Sunday when his team was originally scheduled to face Baker, delivered the game-winning hit as the 9/10-year-old Pendleton boys rallied to a 13-12 victory in seven innings.

Ty Beers led off the extra inning with a sharply hit ball to the shortstop with so much zip that the defender could only knock the projectile down in self defense. After a pair of wild pitches that book-ended a strikeout for the first out of the inning, Newsome stepped into the batter’s box with Beers gazing home from third base.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ATHENA — After his team took a 27-1 beating against La Grande in the opener of the District 3 Little League All-Star Tournament on Saturday, Ben Silva knew his team wasn’t that kind of doormat. Things would improve, he thought, and luckily there was another game to prove it.

On Monday, Milton-Freewater transformed into the bully, drilling Pilot Rock 16-2 and evening their record at 1-1 in pool play of the 9/10-year-old division of the tournament.

“Everybody was more relaxed and they had already seen what it was all about,” said Silva, the manager. “It made them more confident with the bat and we settled in, hitting like we should be.”