Rodeo: Rookie rodeo kid headed to national event in Iowa
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Just because Hunter Howe is new to the world of competitive rodeo doesn’t mean he’s new to rodeo altogether. But that’s what his papers say.
“If you look on all of his entry lists, every one off them will have the word ‘rookie’ next to his name,” Hunter’s father, John, said. “That makes what he’s accomplished even better.”
What the 14-year-old freshman-to-be at Glenwood Springs High School has accomplished are qualifying scores and times in three events for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo. There, Howe will compete in chute dogging, bull riding and breakaway roping when the event runs from June 21 through 27 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I’m pretty surprised,” Hunter Howe said. “In the first part of the year I was super low in the [Colorado Junior High Rodeo] standings. Then I came back after winter and, well, here I am now.”
Now, Howe will be competing with some of the best young cowboys and cowgirls from across the United States and Canada in his first full year of rodeo competition. And he’s not the only junior high rodeo rookie to score high — Taylor Davis of Rifle was the top all-around rookie cowgirl at the Colorado state junior high rodeo in Craig.
Howe had a pretty good all around score himself during the state rodeo. He finished first in the two-ride average for bull riding, with his first-ride score of 65 holding up among three riders. He also finished second in a 10-competitor field in breakaway roping behind first-place Braxton Morgan of Avondale near Pueblo, and he managed a second-place finish in an eight-person field in chute dogging, tying with Braxton Corman of Burlington. The top four state finishers in each race automatically qualify for the national tournament.
For a time, however, it didn’t look like Howe would have much of a chance to finish among the state’s best, much less compete with the nation’s best.
Hunter didn’t do well at all at the beginning of the season in breakaway roping — an event where riders try to rope a calf by the neck as quickly as possible out of the chutes — recording times in just three of his first 11 attempts in places. That seemed to change at the junior high rodeo in Rifle in May, where he had second-place times of 2.8 and 3.6 seconds on consecutive days. And he didn’t need a great time to earn a first-place finish in his final run before state in Montrose, posting a winning time of 6.23 seconds.
In chute dogging — an event where the rider tries to wrestle a calf down as quickly as possible — Howe didn’t have a lot of outstanding times. But the fact that he had times earned him points in the end-of-season standings and an eventual place among the state’s top four in the event. As for bull riding, Howe didn’t even compete in the event for the first half of the season but still made a run to the finals by being able to go the required eight seconds on his rides.
“That’s what really got him here,” said John Howe, who competes at the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo and is a previous competitor on the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) circuit. “That’s what’s going to win him his money down the road, and that’s what earned him those points.”
And that standpoint is likely what he’s going to take into next week’s rodeo in Iowa. Granted, the level of competition will bring down those times and bring up the scores in the bull riding event. Posting times, and scores, is what he feels is the most important thing.
“All I have to do,” Hunter Howe said, “is keep consistent. Hopefully things will work out.”
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