Josi Bishop of Westby is back home after participating in the 2018 National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming, July 15-21 where she competed in three events.

This was Bishop’s second trip at the high school level and although her event results didn’t turn out as she pictured them in her dreams, she is without a doubt thrilled to have once again been able to compete with the best-of the-best when it comes to rodeos.

Bishop said she continually motivated to get better, but even when you know what you have to do to advance everything still has to fall into place to make that happen.

“I am always trying to improve my own times because even if I beat my own personal best time in an events, it doesn’t guarantee that I will win the go round and get to move on,” Bishop said.

Bishop earned her trip to Nationals competing in Richland Center at the Wisconsin High School Rodeo Finals on June 13-15. At State, Bishop was the defending goat tying champion and repeated her top finish again this year. She was also crowned the state barrel racing champion this year, an event she placed fourth in in 2017. She also advanced in breakaway roping placing second at Richland Center. The top four finishers in the state rodeo finals earn the chance to compete at Nationals.

The National High School Rodeo featured more than 1,650 contestants from 43 states, with all contestants competing for $200,000 in prizes and $350,000 in scholarships. In order to earn prizes or scholarships contestants must place in the top 20, based on their combined scores in the first two rounds in order to advance to the finals on Saturday, July 21.

Bishop has been competing in the Wisconsin Rodeo Association circuit since sixth grade and has been riding horses since the age of six. Her rodeo skills have earned her National participation for the past four years, first in junior high and now at the high school level.

At this year’s Nationals, Bishop competed in three events, goat tying, barrel racing, and breakaway roping. Traveling with Bishop to Nationals was her two competition horses, Cisco and Rocky.

Cisco is 14 years old and Bishop’s horse of choice for breakaway roping and goat tying.

In goat tying, the goat was tied to a stake with a 10-foot rope. The starting line was 100 feet from the stake. Mounted on Cisco, Bishop rode from the starting line to the goat, dismounted, threw the goat by hand to the ground and tied three of its legs together. Time was called when Bishop raised her hands in the air and after the goat remained tied for six. Unfortunately, her goat tying times of 10 and 11 seconds were not good enough to advance to the next go-around.

In breakaway roping, each rope was tied to Cisco’s saddle horn with string and Bishop rode after the calf throwing the rope loop over the calf’s head. As Bishop pulled closer, the running calf breaks the string and the rope fell free from the saddle horn. To be a legal catch the ropes must be released from Bishop’s hand and Cisco and the calf must clear the box before the loop is thrown. If not, a 10-second fine for broken barrier is assessed and a white flag is used to register the time.

Bishop was thrilled with her first breakaway calf roping time of 4.6 seconds, which was her best run of the week. The lucky stars weren’t shining during her second run when she missed the calf ousting her out of contention for advancement to the next go-around.

Bishop recalled how she felt at her first National event and said she could only imagine it’s likely the same for people and horses alike.

“In Cisco’s defense it was her first time participating in an event of such magnitude,” Bishop said.

Bishop rode her 13-year-old horse Rocky for barrel racing. In the event Bishop got a running start and her time began as soon as Rocky’s nose reached the starting line and the time stopped when his nose crossed the finish line. Bishop came up short on both runs ending her national run.

“I am very proud of my two horses and glad I got to have both my them with me,” Bishop said.

Having qualified for Nationals multiple times and with years of experience under her belt, she is yearning for more. The new season starts on Aug. 11 and she is excited to see what the year has in store. From May through October, Bishop spends almost every weekend participating in a rodeo somewhere in the state.

“The competition is hard at Nationals. It includes the top competitors from each state, so to make the short go, you have to be fast in both rounds. I would love to make it back to the short round next year in any of my events, but no matter what being a part of the high school rodeo circuit is one of the greatest blessings in my life,” Bishop said.

The National High School Rodeo Association is one of the fastest growing youth organizations, with an annual membership of approximately 12,500 students from 42 states, five Canadian provinces, and Australia. The Association sanctions over 1,800 rodeos each year.

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Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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