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Loper, Beatty win state championships - Central Oregonian

June 19, 2012
Crook County High School

When the dust finally settled Saturday afternoon at the Crook County Fairgrounds, the Tri-County Rodeo Club had a lot to be proud of.

Not only had the club, made up of athletes from Crook, Jefferson, and Crook counties, successfully hosted the Oregon High School Rodeo Association State Finals — they had also earned seven individual state titles.

Crook?County’s James Beatty and Jessie Loper earned two of the state titles. Beatty was one of the first state champions crowned. The sophomore won Friday’s light rifle shooting competition, which was held at the Redmond Gun Club Friday morning. It was the second consecutive shooting championship for Beatty. Beatty also competed in steer wrestling where he finished 16th in the final standings.

 Loper had more of a battle to earn her state championship. After leading the state standings all season in goat tying, the Crook County High School junior had to hold off a trio of hard-charging Tri-County Rodeo Club members to earn the championship.

“I didn’t end where I wanted to,” Loper said. “But I’m still happy with the championship and nationals is the place where I’m going to prove myself.”

Other Tri-County Rodeo Club members to win state championships included Culver’s Stevie Rae Willis (barrel racing), Alfalfa’s Wyatt Bloom (bareback riding),  Redmond’s T.J. McCauley (tie-down roping and team roping), and A.J. McCauley (trap shooting).

Seven other Tri-County Rodeo Club members, including five from Crook County, qualified for the High School National Finals Rodeo.

McKennan Buckner and Dayton Stafford earned their fourth consecutive trip to nationals after finishing second in team roping. After leading the state standings for the entire season, the pair had a sub-par finals, but still finished solidly in second place in the final standings. McCauley and Ryan Opie, who were on fire late in the season won the final two rounds at state to overtake Buckner and Stafford.

Buckner also qualified for nationals in boys cutting where he finished second.

Other Crook County athletes earning trips to nationals include Harley Byram (barrel racing), and twin sisters Courtney and Carly Hibbs (goat tying). Other Tri-County Rodeo Club members to qualify include Miranda Mosby (goat tying), A.J. McCauley (steer wrestling), David Peebles (bareback riding), and Donovan Orr (also bareback riding).

Byram finished fourth in barrel racing, but easily could have finished higher in the standings. She won the first go round with a time of 17.795, the fastest time of the rodeo. Byram took third in the second go round, positioning herself within range of the Championship. However, she bumped the final barrel during the short go round on Saturday. After teetering briefly the barrel fell, earning Byram a five second penalty. With the penalty Byram finished ninth in the round, dropping her out of contention for the championship. Without the bobble she would have finished second in the round and won the average moving her up in the standings.

Of all the events at the state finals it was the goat tying that was possibly the most intense. Although Loper had led the standings for the entire season, there were 11 competitors who were still in contention going into state.

Carly Hibbs, who was fifth going into state posted a time of 8.04 to take the first go round. Twin sister, Courtney also had a solid round finishing in third.

“That gave me a lot of motivation to keep trying and keep pushing,” Carly said. “I was nervous and didn’t know if I had a shot at nationals or not, so when I did win the first go it was a big encouragement and I was pretty excited.”

When Loper stumbled and fell dismounting her horse, it looked like she might lose her lead in the standings. However, she quickly jumped up and was able to still finish fifth in the round with a time of 8.84.

“It was all heart,” Loper said. “Failure and defeat aren’t even in my vocabulary. I just got up and kept going in the run.”

When Mosby won the second go round, the standings became even tighter. Carly Hibbs managed to take fifth in the round, but neither Courtney Hibbs or Loper were able to place.

“It got kind of nerve racking,” Carly said. “When I have a good first go I try really hard to repeat it and sometimes I put too much pressure on myself.”

Needing fast runs in the final go round to ensure themselves a trip to nationals, all four members of the Tri-County Rodeo Club delivered in the final round.

“Yesterday I had a bit of a bobble,” Courtney said. “You start getting head games on the second day. You just kind of want that number one spot pretty bad. It’s really helpful having a sister that can calm you down.”

Courtney Hibbs won the round with a time of 8.04 seconds. She was followed closely by Loper in 8.14 seconds. Mosby took fourth with a time of 8.23 and Carly Hibbs wound up seventh with a time of 10.14.

“It feels amazing,” said Courtney, who finished second in the final standings. “I’m really happy that we get to go to nationals again and I’m really happy that my sister      did well too.”

Mosby wound up in third place in the final standings, while Carly Hibbs held on for fourth place.

“It’s great to have three girls from Prineville going to nationals in goat tying,”?Loper said. “I love all the girls and you can’t help being happy for them.”

Chelsea Guthmiller, who was third in the standings going into the state championships, dropped all the way to ninth in the final standings, while Blake Harrison moved up all the way from 10th place to fifth in the final standings.

Although she didn’t make it to nationals in breakaway roping, Carly Hibbs also had a solid outing in the event, taking second in the first go round with a time of 3.29.

“That was really cool,” she said. “I’ve only had that horse for about four days so I’ve only had a chance to rope off of him twice before coming to state. I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming out of the chute, but that first run just came together.”

The run briefly moved Hibbs into contention. Unfortunately she didn’t receive a time on either of her two final runs and fell to 10th in the final standings.

Nadia Hill won the event while Willis took second.

Following the finals, both  Hibbs sisters, known affectionately as the Hibblets by their friends and family, summed things up for the rest of the Tri-County Rodeo Club.

“We’d like to thank all our sponsors,” They said. “They’ve been a big help to us and we would just like to say thank you to all of them.”

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