By: Julia Dondero
Presented by Montana Silversmiths, the 2023 CINCH World Championship Junior Rodeo kicked off with a bang. Athletes from nearly every corner of the country competed in the qualifying rounds head-to-head competition with their eyes set on advancing to the Semi-Finals Round. Anticipation and exhilaration filled the air of The Fabulous Lazy E Arena as some of youth rodeo’s brightest competed with hopes of taking home their piece of the historic $400,000+ payout.
“Get a good start and let the rest be in God’s hands,” said 18-year-old competitor Sage Griswold.
It was this mindset that provided Griswold the strength and clarity to out-rope the competition by nearly half of a second and secure the Junior Breakaway Roping Round 1 win. In just a few ticks of the clock, the Geary, Olka. native became almost $1,300 richer with a performance win in the Junior Breakaway Roping. Stopping the clock in a blazing 1.95 seconds, the recent High School Graduate was all smiles atop her Cutting bred, all-around horse “Lena”.
“My first thought after I caught my calf was ‘Thank you, Lord’. I’ve had a really tough time roping the past two months and I feel so thankful it has come around. It’s truly all about trusting his timing.” explained the two-event cowgirl, who is set to compete in the Goat Tying later today.
Griswold explained the saying, “Those who leave everything in God’s hands will eventually see God’s hands in everything” is her favorite sediment to remind herself in every situation, particularly before she competes.
Griswold also expressed her excitement for competing at the Lazy E Arena, only an hour away from home. “I’m so excited to be here. With a payout and opportunities like this, it is huge for Breakaway Ropers. Seeing the recent growth in the sport is so exciting and I wish I could personally tell everyone thank you for making this possible.”
Albeit, the Junior Breakaway Roping was not the only event turning heads. Chizm Kuykendall laid down an impressive 7.68-second Tie Down Roping in the Junior Division, positioning him well to advance to the Semi-Final Round. Drew Clukey also struck gold with a pace-setting 3.84-second Steer Wrestling run, proving the race to be off to a competitive start. In the Barrel Racing, Jayci Lee Byler stopped the clock with an electrifying run of 17.121 seconds to secure the lead with her horse, “My Fame Us Lady”.
Outrunning all other barrel racers, was young Skyler Nicholas, putting up an impressive time of 16.945 to take a commanding lead in the Youth Barrel Racing. With the first day in the books, the show-stopping runs were only a preview of the caliber of talent set to compete. Today continues the Qualifying Rounds in all disciplines. Excitement continues to build, as all wait to see who will make their mark and become the next WCJR Champions.