When it was all said and done, the first B.C. High School Rodeo Finals held in the North couldn’t have gone better for both the North Region and the local athletes. Not only did the North sweep the all around awards — Ben Jackson of Hudson’s Hope is the All Around Cowboy and Hanna Pederson of Dawson Creek is the All Around Cowgirl — but 10 of the 18 buckles up for grabs were won by local athletes.
“I’m happy with it, though we do have some things to learn. The kids all did great, and we’re focused on making the event fair for kids from both regions,” said Darryl Mills, president of the BCHSRA North Region.
The provincial finals will return to Fort St. John at the North Peace Lighthorse Rodeo Grounds again next year. Mills would mostly like to work on the ground itself, as some horses slipped during the barrel race and pole bending events.
There are more rodeos in Fort St. John to come. The third annual Fort St. John Rodeo goes this weekend, June 14 to 16, also at the North Peace grounds.
All Around Champs
Jackson and Pederson have been all around threats throughout their rodeo careers, and winning it all at home in their final high school rodeo was a fitting way to go out.
Jackson and Pederson are two of six graduating students from the North Region, along with Wade Roberts, Tyrel Roberts, Lainy Proctor, and Jaytin Jones. Jackson is moving south to attend and compete at Northwest Oklahoma State University next fall and compete in steer wrestling and tie down roping. Fellow local steer wrestling great Stephen Culling attended the same university.
“I can’t wait to try something new. It will be a lot more tough with way more people, but I’m really excited,” Jackson said.
Tyrel Roberts, the provincial saddle bronc champion, and his brother Wade, who finished second in steer wrestling, are also going on to compete in college rodeo at Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma.
“I’ve been wanted to do saddle bronc since I was five years old and things are starting to come together. Hopefully you guys see me on TV one day — I’m hoping to go a long ways with this saddle bronc riding,” Tyrel said.
It wasn’t just the graduating athletes who won, however. Aspen Wollen of Baldonnel won the pole bending title and will return for one more year of high school rodeo.
Wollen, who also placed fourth in barrel racing, qualified for both the National and Canadian High School Rodeo Finals this year in pole bending and barrel racing.
“I’m pretty nervous. It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I’m the B.C. champion, but I know I’ll be excited once the time comes,” Wollen said.
Wollen will also compete in the Fort St. John Rodeo.
— With files from Dave Lueneberg