When the National High School Finals Rodeo gets underway Sunday in Wyoming, five kids from Umatilla and Morrow counties will be gunning for the title of national champion.
Intermountain High School Rodeo team members including Echo seniors Hayden Hilliard and Daylon Eng, Heppner juniors Jacee Currin and Jaiden Mahoney and Pendleton junior Trent Sorey will be in attendance, as all five qualified with exceptional performances at the Oregon High School Rodeo Finals in Prineville on June 6-10. They will be competing against roughly 1,500 high school cowboys and cowgirls at the Sweetwater Event Center in Rock Springs, Wyoming, from July 15-21.
To secure a qualifying spot for the national finals, competitors needed to finish in one of the top four spots of each event at the state finals. Hilliard was a co-state champion in bull riding, while the remaining four — Eng in saddle bronc (110 points), Currin in goat tying (145 points), Mahoney in barrel racing (141 points), and Sorey in tie-down roping (131 points) — were reserve champions.
It’s the second consecutive year that both Currin and Mahoney will be competing for a national championship. In 2017, Mahoney finished 75th in the barrel racing average with a time of 36.195 seconds, while Currin was 120th in goat tying with a time of 8.55 seconds.