Riley Barber grabs Bull Riding Lead

Firth’s Riley Barber grabs the lead in the bull riding event.

BLACKFOOT – The story of the 2020 Idaho High School State Rodeo Finals is turning into the Riley Barber show and how he has handled not only the pressure of the State Finals, but he has handled the weather and conditions like a pro. The Firth High School sophomore, who also plays football and wrestles, in addition to his number of rodeo events, has taken the bull riding competition by the horns and is rapidly turning it into his own event.

Barber posted the third best score of the first round with a 69.5 ride and then made that stand up with a Thursday morning ride worth another 75 points, easily the best Second Go Round score that has been posted. He has two rides covered and will be sitting on top of the average sheet as well which will bring him additional points as the field heads into the Short Go on Friday morning.

As the State Finals Rodeo began, Barber was an outsider and wasn’t even his own district’s champion. With another good ride, Barber will find himself with the Idaho State Championship belt buckle in his possession and a trip on to the National Finals in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Other good performances turned in on Thursday morning belonged to Cooper Pavkov in the tie-down roping as he notched a 13.62-second second run to go with his 13.73 run in the First Go Round and has him sitting in a good spot for the average and allowed him to win the second performance of the Second Go Round.

In breakaway roping, Laynee Gregersen showed why she is so highly thought of when it comes to rodeo. Not only is she the reigning goat tying champion for Idaho, she’s on the verge of making a run at a state championship in breakaway roping.

Gregersen posted her second consecutive sub-four-second run, posting a performance best 3.30 seconds to go with her first performance time of 3.47. She is sitting in second overall, not only in the Second Go Round with that time, but also in average as the competitors are vying for that all-important average and the points that it adds to the contestants’ scores and chance to compete on Friday morning. Gregersen could see action in goat Tying and breakaway roping on Friday. On Thursday morning, there were also three times in the breakaway that were under five seconds, including Kylee Evans with a 4.38 second run, Taylor Bowers with a 4.83 second run and Dally Mendenhall with a 4.25 second run. That should find all four girls in the Short Go on Friday morning.

Cooper Cooke is showing why he won All-Around Cowboy honors a year ago, as he became the only cowboy to post two qualified rides in the saddle bronc event on Thursday morning. He was one of three cowboys who scored a 67 in the First Go Round and he backed that up with a fine 62 Thursday morning and had one more performance remaining on Thursday night, is easily the only rider with two qualified rides.

Bareback riding is another event where a contestant has done his share of the work in getting to the Short Go with a great chance at winning a state title.

Kelby Schneiter posted a 69 in the First Go Round, first performance and he backed that score up with a 64 on Thursday morning’s performance and is sitting pretty as the last of the Second Go Round’s performance headed to Thursday evening. His 133 score on two rides also leads the average.

The toughest of the events thus far may be pole bending. Everything appears to be wide open with just one performance left in the Second Go Round.

Take a tight course where good times are hard to come by, throw in some rain and mud and suddenly it is a challenge just to get around the poles and post a time. The problem is that everyone seems able to post a time between 21.500 seconds and 23.500 seconds and that is going to make the average very important.

Tie-down roping is another event, along with team roping, that appears to be wide open and it is taking a great effort in the mud and slop to get a rope around a calf, let alone navigate the slippery conditions to get it thrown and tied, without any penalties.

Friday’s Short Go will begin at 10 a.m.