Indiana is more known for basketball and racing than rodeo, but that didn’t stop Hauser senior Grace Hasler from making a splash at last week’s National High School Finals Rodeo.
Hasler finished 12th in the goat tying event Saturday night to cap her week of competition in Gillette, Wyoming.
“It was definitely really cool,” she said. “It’s still kind of hard to grasp how hard it is for someone who isn’t from one of the bigger states. With it being one of my first times going back (to the Short Go), I realize how big that is for someone coming from a small state.”
Hasler tied 8.13- and 8.03-second runs on her two “First Go” attempts. The top 20 qualify for the “Short Go,” and she was in 14th place.
In the Short Go, Hasler tied an 8.46 to move up to 12th place.
“It was probably the only run since maybe my sixth-grade year that I’ve been a little bit nervous,” she said. “It’s crazy to realize that not only was I in a top-20 position, but in the running to be in the top 10 or better. You hear about girls from Utah and Texas who are awesome goat tiers. You realize that you don’t have to be from a big state to be competitive.”
Roughly 1,750 girls competed over 10 events last week and 200 (20 in each event) made the Short Go. Those in the top 20 received a patch, while the top 10 are awarded buckles and the champion gets a saddle and scholarship.
About $168,000 in scholarships were given away last week. Hasler received a $500 scholarship for being national secretary last year.
Hasler also finished 42nd in pole bending and 62nd in barrel racing. She had qualified for Short Go last year in pole bending but hit a pole and ended up 17th.
Her sister, Mel, who will be a sophomore at Hauser, finished 39th in goat tying. She tied an 8.33 and a 10.00 on her First Go attempts.
Mel also had a 2.3-second run in breakaway roping but broke a barrier, which results in a 10-second penalty, and finished 71st. Had she not broken the barrier, she would have finished fifth in that round.
“That 8.3 (goat-tying run) is my second-best time that I ever tied,” she said. “But the second run, I was thinking about tying an 8 and not about tying my goat and ended up slower. But as I thought back on it, I thought, ‘Hey, I’m only a freshman.’ My 10 (on the second goat-tying run) kind of stunk, but I was really excited about my 2.3 on my breakaway.”
The only downside to the week came when the Haslers missed their mark in the team roping competition.
Both Haslers have been national officers. Grace, who is in her last year as secretary, ran the meeting where candidates gave speeches to become the next set of officers.
Mel, who was junior high secretary two years ago and president last year, plans on running for high school president next year.
“It was really nice this week not having to campaign and hand out stickers,” Mel said. “I just got to go hang out with people and say, ‘Hi, I’m Mel,’ and not have to go out and say, ‘Hey, vote Mel for president.'”
The Haslers, who play basketball and run track for Hauser, played for Team Indiana in a volleyball tournament among the rodeo contestants. Indiana was matched against defending national champion Idaho in the first round and lost by two points.
Another highlight from the week came from the “Remarkable Kids Rodeo,” where the participants teach kids with special needs how to rope and tie a dummy and ride horses through barrels and poles. More than 100 kids participated in that event.
“The amount of support for that rodeo that we had for those kids was overwhelming,” Grace said. “It’s amazing we had that support from kids to help others.”
Name: Grace Hasler
Sports: Basketball, track
National High School Finals Rodeo results: Finished 12th in goat tying, 42nd in pole bending and 62nd in barrel racing
Name: Mel Hasler
Sports: Basketball, track
National High School Finals Rodeo results: Finished 39th in goat tying and 71st in breakaway roping