RIVERTON – Even though many fall sports have been playing across the state and country for weeks now, this past weekend marked the beginning of the 2023 High School Rodeo season that pits quite a few local boys and girls against some of the best and brightest riders and ropers at multiple levels.
Over the weekend, at the Fremont County Fairgrounds, the 2023 season began with a bang and featured a bunch of high schoolers from Wind River, Lander and Shoshoni doing what they do best in front of their closest friends and family.
One of those local girls, Wind River’s Faye Hellyer out of Kinnear, showed she’s been putting in the work by placing fifth in Barrel Racing with a time of 18.49 on the first day. She followed it up with an 18.064-second time which was good enough for second on the second day. Pavilion’s Melanie Vigoren also finished in the top fifteen on both days in Barrel Racing on the first day, topping out at 18.853 seconds. Also in Barrel Racing, Pavillion’s Madalyn Moorman (18.144 seconds) grabbed a top-five spot on the second day behind Hellyer in second.
Another girl that has grown up in rodeo and worked hard on her craft is Shoshoni sophomore Irelynn Campbell in Breakaway Roping. Campbell, the younger sister of Shoshoni’s superstar steer wrestler Cannon Campbell, finished just outside of the top five on the first day with a speedy time of 3.67 seconds. The next day wasn’t her day, falling to score, but she did finish the top twenty of the goat tying event. Moorman also showed up in Breakaway Roping with a top-twelve finish on the first day.
On the other side of the rodeo chutes, the boys’ of Fremont County were led by Wind River senior Aidan Ruby who was the only bull rider who finished both days, sporting a first-place score of 67 on the first day and the lone score of 66 on the second day. Hot Springs County also had a heck of a day on Saturday, specifically in the Team Roping event with three ropers in the top fifteen: Jay Ritchey (19.67 seconds), Bridger Peil and Jhett Longwell (9.03 seconds). Shoshoni’s Stetson St. Clair threw his name in the bunch the next day, finishing sixth with a time of 9.76 seconds alongside Manila’s Gradie Pendleton.
After the team roping it was once again Thermopolis’ Peil dominating with a fifth-place time of 16.31 seconds in the Tie-Down Calf Roping event. Then, on the second day, he did it again with a fifth-place time of 14.99 seconds, shaving a full second off his time from the day before.
Other strong performances from around the county included Wind River’s Hellyer in the Pole Bending competition, finishing fifth on the first day with a time of 22.502 seconds and seventh on the second day with a similar time of 22.455 seconds. Riverton’s Aislynn Vroman nearly missed out on the top ten in Goat Tying on the first day, putting out a time of 8.5 seconds flat before failing to score on the second day.
So, after the first week of the season, Hellyer sits at third overall in the all-around points with 25, close behind Wright’s Caitlin Moore (38 points) who sits at second behind Yoder’s Hadley Thompson (41). On the boys’ side, Thermopolis’ Peil sits at fourth with 22 points, tied with Wind River’s Ruby who got 20 of his points from his two days of bull riding in Riverton.
Up next, rodeo teams collide at Jackson Hole on Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17.
BY: Shawn O’Brate
Below, enjoy some more photos from WyoToday photographer Carl Cote: