PRINEVILLE — Everything seemed to be going Michael Pederson’s way through the first two rounds of the Oregon High School State Finals Rodeo. The Hermiston senior followed up a first-place time on Day 1 of the tie-down roping competition with a second-place finish on Day 2 and also took down his steer the second quickest in that round.
Heading into the finals, the Intermountain High School Rodeo Team cowboy held the lead in the year-long, aggregate scoring for all-around cowboy for the state. He didn’t need to win either event during the short-go performance last Saturday at Prineville’s Crook County Fairgrounds, just place reasonably well.
But things don’t always go as planned.
“He was way into the driver’s seat and cut his calf down at about 9.45 seconds,” said Curtis Pederson, father to Michael and advisor of the Intermountain team. “But his calf came untied. There was a lot riding on that last run and that was costly for him.”
Pederson left the state rodeo with a reserve all-around championship as the No. 2 scorer across all events throughout the season. He finished in the same spot in the tie-down roping event individually.
Pederson is one of eight members of the Eastern Oregon high school team to earn spots in the High School National Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., a competition that starts July 13 and runs through July 21. The top four finishers on the year through each state’s finals will compete there, while Nos. 5 through 15 will be in the arena the week before at the Silver State Invitational Rodeo in Winnemucca, Nev.
The Intermountain boys team finished second at last weekend’s rodeo but the girls group did one better, taking the team title in Prineville. Kaci Kamm, a sophomore from Stanfield, also won a reserve championship in the all-around. But her finish is actually a step behind her winnings from her freshman season when she took the all-around championship as well as top rookie honors.
Kamm’s best individual finish was in the breakaway roping event. She ran a 4.05 time in the final round that landed her in fifth place, but her aggregate for the year kept her in third.
“Of course she wanted to repeat, but the competition is so tough and so extreme,” said Pederson, who was recently elected as president the Oregon High School Rodeo Association.
Callahan Crossley will ride in a pair of events at nationals. With a 2.5-second rope of her calf in the breakaway, Crossley took the top honors in the state finals, moving her up into fourth in the state overall. She’ll also get a chance at the barrel races in Wyoming after an aggregate score that left her in third place.
Between those scores and her Top-10 finish in pole bending, Crossley came in third in the all-around cowgirl standings. She could have challenged for a higher spot perhaps had she ridden her usual horse in the short-go finals. Instead, the horse on which she became a state barrel racing favorite was in use during the finals, by older sister Jade Crossley as the Blue Mountain Community College cowgirl finished eighth at the College National Finals Rodeo on the same day.
“Callahan did exceptionally well on that horse all year,” Pederson said. “It’s a toss up for the family on that one. But we might have been talking about her being the all-around cowgirl, potentially.”
The best individual finisher in a single event for the Intermountain squad, Cain Smith, took a tie for first in bull riding. Despite not scoring in the finals of the state rodeo, Smith’s season-long performance list added up to enough points to keep him with at least a share of the crown.
Sid Britt also qualified for nationals, as a bull rider. He took fourth in the state.
Also heading to the national finals on the boys’ side are Pake Sorey for tie-down roping after a fourth-place finish and Koty Kamm for steer wrestling. Kamm’s Top-10 placing in tie-down roping also helped him to a third-place finish in the boys all-around.
Blake Greenup wraps up the national qualifiers. She took second in pole bending last week in Prineville with a 21.513-second run in the finals. Second is also where she finished the year in the season standings.
At nationals, individual teams like the Intermountain will get wiped out and all the cowboys and cowgirls from Oregon will compete as one entity. Seeing the high-scoring and fast-running group at the Oregon rodeo over the weekend — both on his team and the others — Pederson said he has lofty expectations for them against the rest of the nation.
“I look for us to win in the Top 2 if not win it outright if everything goes right,” he said, adding that he’s not sure if Oregon has ever won a national rodeo title.
Heading to the Silver State Invitational on July 2 will be Koty Kamm (tie-down roping), Michael and Johnny Pederson (team roping), Emily Sorey (breakaway roping and pole bending), Kaci Kamm (goat tying and barrel racing), Chelsea Guthmiller (goat tying), Greenup (barrel racing) and Crossley (pole bending).
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.