HEBER CITY — When Kyna Hafen tied her goat in 8.06 seconds Saturday night during the Utah State Rodeo Finals, Meggen Hodson did not respond the way she usually does.
"Usually it kind of gets me more nervous," she said of watching a competitor put up a speedy time. But Hodson is on an impressive win streak so she just rode her horse into the arena at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds, jumped off and tied her goat 1/100th of a second faster to earn the fastest time of the night — as well as the state championship in the event.
"I was going for whatever happened," she said of winning her eighth goat-tying event in a row, including all three rounds at the Utah State Finals this week. "It didn't matter."
The win streak, she said, has given her confidence she hasn't had in the past. And that's a good thing for the Fremont High honor student to have heading to the High School National Finals Rodeo next month.
State champions were crowned in all of the rodeo events and the top four in each event make up the team that will represent Utah.
Hodson said she has only been to nationals as a spectator (watching her sister), so she's thrilled to be competing against the country's best.
The top All-Around cowgirl was Rylee Dick, and the all-round cowboy was Chet Boren, a senior from Uintah High. He won three saddles — for the three state titles he earned. He won tie down roping and steer wrestling and he finished third in cow cutting and team roping. He knew he had a shot at the all-round title coming into this week's competition.
"I was excited coming in, and I'm really excited about how it turned out," he said, acknowledging the steer wrestling wasn't his best time but it was good enough to keep him at the top of the standings.
"After that my nerves went away and I was ready to go rope a calf," he said smiling. "I'm pretty excited to go to nationals."
He went last year in two events, but his best finish was 20th in the team roping. The Uintah High wrestler is hoping to compete in the all-around at state.
A number of teens were celebrating their first trip to nationals, while others were experienced state champs. Shaylee Thacker has earned five titles — and the Riverton teen is just a junior. She earned her most recent state title in breakaway roping.
One team proved that a team doesn't have to be big to make an impact on the state finals. Enterprise High School's Rodeo Club qualified six of seven of its team members for this week's state finals. Katelyn Holmes was in first place in barrel racing coming into the state finals and she won the first go round. Her teammate Carol Lee Holt, a junior, won the second round of barrel racing. But the competition was so tight that Timmi Ward, who won Saturday's championship round, was able to over take them both for the state title in barrel racing.
Still, both Holt and Holmes were thrilled to be part of the national team.
"I'm excited," said Holmes, who hasn't been to nationals since junior high. She also had the fastest time this week (17.379 seconds).
Holt qualified in poles bending and barrel racing and she went to nationals in pole bending as a freshman. Her sister, Madison, finished high enough (top 15) in barrel racing to earn an invitation to Silver State.
Their teammate Kanton Vause, a sophomore, will represent the tiny club and Utah in steer wrestling. He said "bulldoggin' " is a family tradition.
"My uncle (Brock Andrus) went to the NFR," he said. His father, Lance, is his hazer, which means he drives the steer straight out of the gate so Kanton can get a good position to jump on him from his horse.
"There is a lot more pressure on my dad," said Vause with a smile.
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