Local student, cowgirl dreams of national championships

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— She is just a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, but local cowgirl Genny McGeary is already a well-traveled veteran of the rodeo road.

As a member of the Northwest Colorado Rodeo team, McGeary has spent her spring in places ranging from Craig to Cortez with hopes of chasing down a national berth and a state title in the process.

She is currently ranked third in the state in the cutting event and within reach of the overall state title.

The top four after the state championships in June will be invited to the National High School Rodeo Championships, which will take place in Farmington, N.M., in July. If McGeary makes the cut, it will be her first national appearance of her high school career.

So it is no wonder that she is still working hard to close the gap between her and the current state points leader, Calla Cox of Bloomfield, N.M., down the stretch. Two of the final four events feature cutting events, and McGeary will need to score some points if she is going to catch Cox, who currently has 96 points, and runner-up Meghan Tumlinson of Montrose, who is currently at 75.5.

McGeary is in third with 67.5 points and teammate Sedar Thurston is in fifth at 46 points. Thurston tied for sixth at the last rodeo in cutting.

"First place in the state gets a really nice saddle," McGeary said. "I definitely have a shot."

Both local cowgirls are expected to compete this Saturday and Sunday when the high school circuit comes to Rifle. That rodeo will feature a cutting event. McGeary competed in non-high school rodeos the past two weeks in Rifle and she thinks the experience in the arena is going to give her an edge in this competition.

"It's going to be a pretty big rodeo. It's close to home and I've had a chance to compete there a couple of times this month," McGeary said. "It should give me an edge."

McGeary has exploded onto the cutting scene this spring and seems to be gaining momentum. During the last cutting event in Pueblo, April 27-28, she took a third on the first day and tied for first in the cutting events on the second day.

The fact she is in the hunt for a national berth in that event has helped ease a slow start in both pole bending and barrels.

"My horse is still kind of young for the barrels," McGeary said. "She still gets a little bit nervous, so it took some time to get used to running."

Last weekend, McGeary was 11th on the first day and eighth on the second. Less than a 10th of a second separated fifth through 12th in the event.

"It's by far the most competitive event on the girls side," McGeary said of barrel racing.

She is currently ranked 20th in the state but is moving up fast. More than 90 girls compete in a normal barrel-racing event.

McGeary is also ranked 19th in pole bending right now. Her teammate Thurston is 33rd in the state in that event.

McGeary said her chance of qualifying for the nationals in either of those events is remote. However, she is holding out hope that she will be invited to the Silver State Championships, which will take place in Nevada in early summer.

In addition to Rifle, the local rodeo team will also compete in Westcliffe (May 18-19), Monte Vista (May 25-27) and Lamar (May 31-June 2).

The state finals will either take place in Loveland or Greeley in June. Loveland is currently building a new area, and if it's ready by June, the championships will be held there.

Other Routt County athletes in the standing of the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association include Kaylee Myers, 43rd in poles; Cassidy Kurtz, 37th in barrels; and Jake Booco, sixth in bull riding.

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