Jace Logan, Keenan Hayes win titles at National High School Finals Rodeo | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County cowboys earn titles at national finals rodeo

Logan wins steer wrestling, Hayes the victor in bareback

Yampa's Jace Logan wrestles a steer to the ground on Friday, June 21, during opening night of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.
File photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Soroco High School graduate Jace Logan has been to the National High School Finals Rodeo three times ahead of his 2019 appearance.

The past two years, the steer wrestler finished in the top 20, proving to be one of the best in the nation, but never rising to his own standards. In his final go at the high school level, Logan couldn’t have performed any better.

With an average of 15.18 seconds, he earned the steer wrestling national championship. Combining with a seventh-place finish in tie-down roping, the Yampa native was also named All-Around Cowboy at the conclusion of the finals in Rock Springs, Wyoming, on Saturday, July 20.

“This year was different, just my mindset going in, I was very confident,” Logan said. “I knew I had a pretty good shot to compete well in both of my events. Just the overall experience of competing at the world level, against kids from Canada, Australia, the United States, it’s a great experience and a great opportunity.”

Keenan Hayes of Hayden also left Rock Springs a national champion. Picking up a higher score in each go-round, Hayes finished first in bareback riding with an average of 232.

“It was mostly my draw,” Hayes said humbly. “You got to have a good dancing partner to be good and make a good score. I drew really nice in the short-go, and it just worked out.”

Craig’s Kinlie Brennise placed fourth in barrel racing with an average of 52.315.

In the first round, Hayes came away with a 74, putting him in sixth. Two days later, on Thursday, July 18, a 76 put him in third. In the final performance of the final round, the 16-year-old earned an event-high 82.

“I was second to last in the short-go, and I actually double grabbed trying to get my hand out of my rigging,” Hayes said. “I heard it was an 82, and I was pretty stoked from there.”

Hayden’s Keenan Hayes comes out of the gates at the 2018 Colorado High School Championships.
Courtesy photo

Logan performed similarly en route to his victory. During his first go, he recorded a time of 5.41 seconds, good for eighth overall. His second try, he pinned his steer in 5.11 seconds, the fifth fastest time of the round. His final time of 4.66 seconds is what sealed the win. 

The University of Wyoming commit said he didn’t even think of the fact that he’d be competing in college rodeo just a few months from now. He focused on what he needed to do to succeed in that moment.

“It just comes down to drawing three good steers and doing your job and executing to the best of your ability and just being confident,” Logan said.

His first two tie-down roping times weren’t the best either, but still put him in the top 13 and, therefore, the final round. Logan stopped the clock at 8.07, and his knot held, helping him secure seventh place.

Both Hayes and Logan had a series of excellence leading up to their national titles.

Hayes was coming off a third-place finish in bareback at the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the week before.

Hayes is also in excellent standing in the Colorado Pro Rodeo series, leading bareback and the all-around by a large margin.

“I was sitting about the same last year in the bareback riding and ended up getting hurt in August last year,” Hayes said. “It’s nice to be in the same spot and be able to actually finish and win. That’s my goal.”

That same week of the high school finals, Logan won the bulldogging jackpot, and he and his mom took second in an event together. The weekend before, Logan won steer wrestling at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo with a time of five seconds. 

“It was just a blessed week,” he said. “The stars lined up from the pro rodeo the week to the national jackpot, each and every go-round at the national finals. The stars lined up, and I’m just very thankful for all the opportunities that were presented.”

As a running back and state-champion wrestler, Logan is used to physically-demanding sports that require incredible strength alongside a certain level of finesse, including steer wrestling. At 5 feet, 10 inches, 170-pounds at the end of wrestling season, Logan isn’t anywhere near the largest rider in the steer wrestling lineup.

“They definitely say it’s the big man’s event, and I think that’s funny because I’m not the biggest guy out there,” Logan said with a laugh. “It really just comes down to being technical. Whoever has the best technique usually does the best and can execute it every time. I just practice, practice, practice. In those final runs, especially in the short round, I just stuck to my technique.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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