Story by Riata Cummings Grayce Baxter is a rodeo athlete and senior at Lehi High School. She enjoys “all things medical” and is currently taking […]
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Utah’s National Champions
stories by Riata Cummings
photos by Acentric Rodeo & Western Edge
Champion All-Around Cowgirl & Champion Girls Cutter
McKenna Coronado, a southern Utah cowgirl, qualified for the National HIgh School Finals Rodeo in the cutting, pole bending, barrel racing, and breakaway roping. In the first round she finished third in the barrel racing, first in the cutting, and seventh in the pole bending. The second round finished her second in the cutting and sixth in the pole bending. Her overall performance had her sitting pretty in the girls all around going into the short go. In preparation for the finals, McKenna worked with her trainers to get both her and her horses in prime condition. Though her mom just wanted McKenna to have fun, she knew she wanted to walk away from nationals with a title. Last year she fell a little bit short of the all-around title, but this year she came prepared to win. McKenna thrives on pressure and a high level of competition, and after a good first round the pressure helped her keep pushing herself and her horses. She says she couldn’t have asked for more from her horses and is grateful for them and all the people who helped her prepare and perform. When the finals came to a close, McKenna was the 2018 World Champion High School Rodeo Girls Cutter and World Champion High School Rodeo All-Around Cowgirl.
Looking back on the finals, she is still excited by her wins. Being able to hold a national title has always been a goal of hers and being able to share the moment with her friends and family was a dream come true. McKenna’s parents, Mike and Becky, have been cutters for as long as she can remember. She has been cutter herself since she was only four years old, and started competing in other rodeo events about halfway through her seventh grade year. She now competes in the breakaway roping, pole bending, barrel racing, team roping, and girls cutting.
McKenna has three brothers, Dason, Kagen, and Kanden. They live in Kanarraville, Utah, a small town near Cedar City. They are close to the mountains, and like to spend time together hunting, boating, trail riding, and rodeoing. In the future, McKenna would like to become a veterinarian and have a family.
Rodeo has taught her never to give up and to push through the hard times. It has helped her break out of her shell and meet new people. Rodeoing against other Utah athletes has challenged her to always compete at the top of her game. She knows that after a bad run or rodeo, her fellow competitors will cheer her on and help her recover. McKenna knows that rodeo is about more than winning, and winning is about more than a title.
Champion Goat Tyer
Erryn Hodson, a twin from Hooper, Utah, qualified for the finals in the goat tying. Before nationals she worked hard, practicing every night and working on the fundamentals of goat tying. She was aiming for the short-go and knew she had to be on the top of her game. She is grateful for her twin sister Emma who has helped push her and mentally prepare her for the pressure of competition. She would also like to thank the other Utah goat tying competitors for pushing her to compete. She enjoyed the time she spent at nationals wit her family and friends at the trade show and rodeo. She finished ninth in the first round, second in the second go, and fifth in the short go. When the scores were settled, she walked away the 2018 World Champion High School Rodeo Goat Tyer.
Looking back to the finals, Erryn feels grateful and blessed for her win. She knows how rare it is to come home with a national title, and has been humbled by her experience. She would advise rodeo athletes to never give up. With hard work and dedication, lows and hard times can become learning experiences. She would also encourage them to surround themselves with positive people and have a good attitude.
Their mom and dad, Karen and Brad, are the proud parents of five girls. Twenty-four-year-old Jessie, twenty two year old Megan, the 17 year old twins Emma and Erryn, and Kenna who is 7. Both parents rodeoed, as did the older sisters, so it was only natural for Erryn to join in the tradition. Erryn’s favorite part of the sport, aside from actual competing, is being able to meet new people. Especially at nationals, contestants have the ability to reunite with friends and competitors from all over, heightening the air of competition. At the finals, Utah bands together to support its own. In Utah, competitors become one big rodeo family, always supporting each other and having one another’s backs.
The competitive nature of Utah athletes may have contributed Erryn’s ability to stand up to pressure. The top fifteen goat tying competitors all push one another all year long, so when Erryn was preparing for the short go, she was ready for the pressure. Thanks to the constant need to be on the top of her game, Erryn nerves didn’t bother her.
Soon, Erryn will be graduating from cosmetology school. She will be attending Weber State University where she will rodeo and study for her business degree. Utah High School Rodeo certainly won’t be the same without Erryn Hodson.
Champion Barrel Racer
Amanda Butler, a Payson, Utah, cowgirl and Utah High School Rodeo Association Student President, qualified for the national finals in barrel racing. A good deal of her preparation for nationals was mental, getting in the right mindset to compete. She worked with different trainers and friends to get her and her horses in tip top shape. She came with a goal to finish better than she did last year and hoped to finish in the top ten. She enjoys the atmosphere of nationals and how much team Utah bands together. She loved shopping at the trade show and meeting contestants from all over. This year, it was Amanda’s consistency that set her apart from the rest of the contestants. Getting consistently faster, she finished 13th in the first round, 3rd in the second round, and 2nd in the short go. When all was said and done, she was the World Champion High School Rodeo Barrel Racer.
Looking back at the finals, Amanda still feel like the whole thing is surreal. She has always set her sights high, but never quite let herself think she could go that far. Winning on that level was just another reminder for her to keep going and never give up because you never really know how far you can go.
Amanda is the third of four children. Her parents are Mark and Kimberly Butler, and their other children are Andrew, Lauren, and Josie. Now that the oldest two are married, they don’t get to spend as much time together, but they still try to have family dinner all together every Sunday. It was not too long ago when they attended the Strawberry Days Rodeo together and decided that they wanted to try their hand at the sport.
Amanda competes in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and girls cutting. In the upcoming rodeo year, she would like to qualify for nationals in the barrel racing as well as one of her other events. Her favorite part of the sport is the sheer adrenaline, even when watching. She loves being apart of the tightly-knit Utah rodeo team and friendly environment. Rodeo has taught Amanda dedication and responsibility. Being able to dedicate time and effort is crucial if you want to be successful.
Eventually, Amanda would like to attend Utah Valley University and become a high school art teacher. She has always enjoyed the class, has a passion for art, and loves using her creativity.