Utah boys slip past Texas for National Finals rodeo title

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Texas is the rodeo capital of the world, right? Not at the boys high school level in 2011.

As of Monday, the conglomerated squad from the state of Utah captured the boys' team division at the National High School Finals Rodeo. The annual competition was held in Gillette, Wyoming in 2011, with Utah capturing the title with a final day rally spurred by a 1-2 finish in the overall bull riding competition.

National High School Rodeo Finals
National High School Rodeo Finals

While Utah stole bragging rights in boys rodeo, traditional champ Texas did win both the overall and girls classification at the event, which hosted teams from 41 states, five provinces and Australia.

In total, some 1,460 high school rodeo competitors made the trek to Northeast Wyoming for the multi-day event. By the end of the competition, winners in individual events came from 12 different states and Australia.

In particular, Rexburg, Idaho native Garrett Smith was named Rodeo Finals All Around Cowboy, finishing a whopping 350 points ahead of his nearest competitor. McKenna Wagner, a daughter of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was the All Around Cowgirl winner, while Australian Clay Gordon (from Gatton, Queensland) was the All Around Rookie Cowboy winner and Edgewood, New Mexico's LeighAnn Scribner won the All Around Rookie Cowgirl award.

After hosting the 2010 and 2011 National Finals, Gillette will not host the event again in 2012. Those finals were scheduled to be hosted in Springfield, Ill., but the Associated Press reported earlier in 2011 that the city backed out of its commitment to host the event because of steep budget cuts.

That means that the Finals don't officially have a home going forward. The event's most recent hosts can't hold the 2012 Finals because of booking conflicts, and its other traditional home -- Farmington, N.M. -- is allegedly ambivalent about hosting it for an additional two year stint because it has had mixed results in terms of profit when hosting the event in recent years.

Does that mean that there won't be a 2012 National Rodeo Finals? It's unlikely, but given the current budget climate around the country, anything is possible.

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