Yampa Valley cowboys win big at Mountain States Circuit Finals
The bareback victory capped off a historic season for Hayden’s Keenan Hayes
Going into the season, Hayden bareback rider Keenan Hayes had a lofty goal: earn more money on his permit than anyone in history.
While it sounds like a shoot-for-the-moon kind of plan, Hayes has a record of reaching whatever target he’s aiming for.
Continuing that trend, Hayes smashed the earnings record, accruing $108,567 over the 2022 season. Somewhat regrettably, Hayes elected to compete on a permit, the level below a professional card, for a second season. He started the year off hot, which made him wish he had gotten his pro card, but he made the most of it.
Capping off his outstanding year, Hayes won the bareback title at the Mountain States Circuit Finals in Loveland on Saturday, Oct. 22.
“Being the young guy and winning that much, it just lets the older guys know that I’m here for it,” Hayes said. “It was really awesome to be able to go out and do that. I always expected myself to be the best at whatever I do no matter what.”
Also taking home a win for the Yampa Valley, South Routt resident Jace Logan claimed the steer wrestling title.
En route to the overall bareback win, Hayes won all three rounds of action, tying for the lead in the first round with 87 points. In the second round, he earned 88 points, and in the final round, he improved again with a 90-point ride on Cervi Championship Rodeo’s On Second Thought.
“The last one was kind of the best one,” Hayes said. “That horse threw everything and the kitchen sink at me, and it worked out real good. He was kind of being a little bit of a pain (in the chute) as a younger horse there. Went out and blew around, kind of just swapped ends right out there, blowing up in the air, jumping high … just kind of throwing all the dirt my way.”
Logan also endured three rounds of action, and while his second round was his fastest at 3.9 seconds, he said his first round was the biggest of the weekend.
“It was my slowest time. I didn’t draw maybe the best steer compared to the other two, and my horse had a bit of a hiccup. I caught the steer and threw him at the end of the arena in 7.5 seconds. If I were to get a ‘no time’ on that, I wouldn’t have set myself up to come back. It was probably my most important run.”
Swapping out his horse for one from a friend, Logan sped to a second-round win in 3.9 seconds. He followed with a 4.4 second run in the third round, which helped him win the overall steer wrestling title.
“All year long I definitely had my fair share of luck and my fair share of bad luck. I went in middle of the pack, maybe even slightly below,” Logan said. “Going in, my plan was to win the average. That would be my biggest shot to make it to the NFR open. That’s how I wanted to end off the year.”
The 2023 season has already commenced, so the circuit finals served as a satisfying conclusion for 2022, as well as a confidence boost for 2023. Hayes will put one more bow on the 2022 season at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Permit Holder of the Year Challenge in Las Vegas.
While Hayes is looking forward to attempting to repeat his victory there, he’s mostly excited about competing with his PRCA card as opposed to a permit. He’s been competing with the same people, but now his earnings will help him potentially qualify for the PRCA Championships.
“It’s a long time from now, but I got a really good start on it this year,” Hayes said. “If you’re in the top five come November, they invite you down to Houston, which is a really big rodeo. I think you can win $50,000 in one performance. That really helps guys make it to the finals.”
As for Logan, he is headed to the National Western Stock Show in Denver next and is happy to be sitting in the top five in the circuit standings for steer wrestling.
“Hopefully, it gives me momentum into 2023 and to start rodeoing harder,” Logan said. “I’d like to scale up my rodeoing more. I’d like to go down to Texas for the winter probably and hit more of the bigger rodeos, trying to make my stamp in the top 50 of the world and see how far it takes me.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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