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New horse, lessons learned as freshman helped Rayne Grant make LCCC rodeo history

Jun. 8—CHEYENNE — It's hard to accomplish something historic in a rodeo program as established as Laramie County Community College's.

That's just what Rayne Grant did. Twice.

The sophomore from Wheatland is the first LCCC cowgirl to win a Central Rocky Mountain Region barrel racing championship and the first to finish as runner-up in the all-around standings. She'll compete in barrel racing and breakaway roping at the College National Finals Rodeo starting Sunday at the Wyoming Center in Casper.

"That does surprise me, but the competition in our region is so tough and has been for a long time that those are really hard things to accomplish," Grant said. "LCCC is building a program and the coaches are getting some good girls in and some other tough competitors that will have the opportunity to go in any event, even all-around.

"It's only going to grow and get better for years to come."

Grant will compete in breakaway during Sunday afternoon's "Broncs, Bulls and Breakaway" event that opens the CNFR. She'll barrel race and rope during Monday morning slack. Her final breakaway run will come during Wednesday night's main performance. She'll also run barrels during Tuesday slack and Thursday night's main performance.

Grant finished fourth in the CRMR breakaway roping standings, 12th in goat tying and even tallied some points in team roping.

Grant arrived at LCCC fresh off of winning the pole bending championship at the National High School Finals Rodeo. College rodeo doesn't have pole bending, which features a contestant and horse running a serpentine pattern through a line of poles.

That led Grant to sell her pole bending horse Chili last spring.

"I never thought I would sell her. I thought I would have her forever, because she's brought me so much success," Grant said. "The family I sold her to are really good friends of mine, and I've built a great relationship with them. It gives me chills right now just talking about it.

"I've been able to see another girl go and have success on (Chili). That's way more special to me than keeping her for myself. I was really emotional, but I hope she brings as much success to the next girl as she did me."

Grant bought a new barrel racing horse named Kid from Texas-based trainer and barrel racer Ashley Schafer. Grant and Kid developed chemistry quickly.

"I had been around the horse a little bit before I bought him and always liked him and loved how he ran," Grant said. "I really liked his try, his grit and how hard he always ran and competed. He really puts himself out there and has carried that on the whole time I've had him.

"Those are really important qualities in a rodeo horse. Sometimes we're not in the most ideal set ups with the ground, the crowds and everything else. But he locks in and tries his best for me every time."

Grant finished 12th in the CRMR barrel racing standings during her freshman campaign. She was 15th in breakaway roping. Those are solid showings for a rookie, but not the level of success Grant is accustomed to. She describes her freshman season as a learning experience that set her up for what she accomplished this year.

"The transition from high school to college wasn't that big of a different, but it was a big enough change that I had to learn how to compete at those rodeos and have success at them," she said. "There were some struggles that kept me from having the success I wanted to, but I took it as an advantage heading into this season.

"I learned to do what was best for my horses and prepare them and myself for the weekend. I changed how I was practicing and started practicing to win, instead of practicing to just be competitive."

Grant picked up barrel racing points at six of the 10 CRMR rodeos. That included wins at Lamar and Colorado State, a runner-up finish at Gillette and a third-place showing at Chadron. She placed third in breakaway at both Chadron and Eastern Wyoming, picking up points in five rodeos.

Grant has had her breakaway horse, Banjo, since it was 3 years old.

"It's cool to have success on something I've had for so long and really brought up," she said.

Grant's family owns a ranch 20 miles southwest of Wheatland. She is the fifth generation to be brought up on the land her family homesteaded in the 1800s. Her parents started spending winters in Arizona during her eighth-grade year, so Grant finished her high school education through the Penn Foster online program.

"I capitalized on the opportunity to go down to Arizona in the winters and rodeo all year long," Grant said. "It was so much easier to do those things with online school."

Grant plans to attend the University of Wyoming next year, where she'll be reunited with coach Seth Glause, who recruited her to LCCC.

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.