Gaasch, Story make HS rodeo finals short go

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Two members of the of the six-person contingent from Beaverhead County to the National High School Finals Rodeo at Lincoln, Neb., made it back to the world championship go round and placed in the top 20. The finals rides with the tag “world’s largest rodeo,” with over 1,650 contestants from 44 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.

Murphy Gaasch, a sophomore from Dillon, finished 13th in the world in goat tying, and Walker Story, a freshman from the Big Hole Valley, earned 16th in the world in reined cow horse and seventh in the world in the rookie all around cowboy standings.

In steer wrestling, T.J. Sigman of Dillon sat in 25th place in the world standings after the two regular go rounds, just missing out on the championship go round by a little over a second on his combined two-head time. Chance Story, another bulldogger from BCHS, missed on his first go but popped a 4.1 second to place fourth overall in the second round.

“My first round in the goat tying, my goat kind of spun around on me and I did the best I could,” said Gaasch of her first round 9.62 second run. “In the second round, I made a good clean run.”

The 8.67 second run put her in contention to make it back in the top 20 for the short go round.

“There was a mix up in the office and they said I didn’t make the short round, so we went shopping,” recalled Gaasch. “Then I got a call and they said I made it.”

Gaasch rushed back to the arena in time to post an 8.34 second run in the championship go round for a ninth place finish in the go. The time moved her to 13th in the final world standings.

In breakaway roping, Gaasch broke the barrier in the first round for a 9.62 second run and fell out of contention in the event. She popped a solid 3 seconds flat run in the second round.

“It was really fun,” said Gaasch of her rodeo on the big stage. “I really like Lincoln and I am super happy that my parents gave me the experience to go there and rodeo. I’m really glad my grandparents were able to tag along and support me. I love it when they go to all of the rodeos and hopefully I’ll be back next year.” ship pot. The rodeo hands out almost $400,000 in scholarships during the finals.

Walker Story didn’t draw well in cow cutting and placed in the middle of the pack, but he lit up the scoreboard in reined cow horse to place 16th in the final world standings. His success in the event put him seventh in the rookie all around cowboy final standings.

“I went down there just trying to make my own runs,” said the freshman. “I was able to make a real good run in the first go round and that was a good start. Going into the second round I was just trying to be consistent and I was able to put together a solid run and that placed me in the average to go into the short round.”

Walker placed eighth in the first round and 21st in the second round to come back solid in the championship round. He placed 15th in the round and finished 16th in the final world standings.

“Each round has a different pattern and you have to complete the pattern on your horse,” said Walker explaining the reined cow horse event. “The event originates from back in Mexico and they brought it to California. They would ride their horses and spin and slide. “So you complete your pattern and it has a series of circles that you have to do and you run down and slide stop your horse, and you have to do some spins, and you have to work a cow at the end of it. It tries to simulate the things that you have to do out when you’re working every day.”

Montana state champion steer wrestler T.J. Sigman made to solid runs but fell short of the top 20.

“It was a good time, I made two runs and ended up 25th in the world,” said Sigman. “I still had a good time. It was an amazing experience and I’m glad that I made it.”

Fellow steer wrestler Chance Story had a no time in the first round, leaving him no hope of making the short go. In the second round he got together with his hazer Jim Garrison and came up with a solid plan.

“I drew a steer that I knew was really good, so we made a good plan on him and knew what he was,” said Chance of his best ever run of 4.1 seconds and fourth place finish in the round. “I thought I broke, I was pushing it as hard as I could. I knew I was fast. I just got up and went back up the arena. I didn’t know what quite to do with myself at the moment.”

Gavin Garrison and Tristan Setzer had a tough draw in the first round. Their steer fell down and then they missed the heels for a no time. Pushing hard to place in the second round, they had another miss. It was a typical “That’s rodeo” moment.

As a team, Montana finished third in the overall standings, thanks in large part to Sam Petersen of Helena. Petersen placed second in the world in both steer wrestling and bareback, working both ends of the arena.

“All of us kids were talking about the Montana team finish,” said Walker Story. Montana competed very tough against all of the states. Sam Petersen won the all around and he is a super good kid.”

“Sam Petersen is one of my friends and our parents are really good friends and my grandparents are really good friends with his grandparents,” said Murphy Gaasch. “Sam is a really cool kid.”

Petersen’s mom Tara worked as Sam’s hazer during the steer wrestling. Tara, a Helena native, married Pete Petersen of Dillon, a BCHS graduate and UMW rodeo team star. In 1992, Petersen won the Big Sky Region steer wrestling title and placed second in the nation at the College National Finals Rodeo. Western’s Jesse Petersen edged Pete that year to win his second consecutive steer wrestling title, and the Western men’s team finished fifth in the nation.

2021 National High School Rodeo Finals

Walker Story, Big Hole, freshman

Rookie All Around Cowboy - seventh in the final world standings.

Reined Cow Horse - 16th in final world standings. Short Go - 281 points, 15th in round. Second Round - 284.5 points, 21st in round. First Round - 290 points, eighth in round.

Cow Cutting - 41st in final world standings. Second Round - 135 points, tie for 47. First Round - 136 points, tied for 43rd.

Murphy Gaasch, Dillon, soph.

Goat Tying – 13th in final world standings. Short Go - 8.34 seconds, tied for ninth. Second Round - 8.67 seconds, 21st. First Round - 9.62 seconds, 53rd.

Breakaway Roping - 41st in final world standings. Second Round - 3.0 seconds, tied for 37th. First Round - 9.62 seconds, 53rd.

T.J. Sigman, Dillon, senior Steer Wrestling - 25th in final world standings. Second Round - 7.03 seconds, 47th. First Round - 81 seconds, 48th.

Chance Story, Big Hole, senior Steer Wrestling - 57th in final world standings. Second Round - 4.1 seconds, fourth in round. First Round - No time.

Gavin Garrison, Glen, soph./

Tristan Setzer, Big Hole, sr. Team roping: Second Round - No time. First Round - No time. Final Overall Team Standings TOP 5: 1, Texas (girls 1st, boys 1st), 14,538.33 points. 2, Idaho (girls 5th, boys 2nd), 6,603.33. 3, Utah (girls 4th, boys 4th). 4, Montana (girls 6th, boys 3rd), 6,095.00. 5, Oklahoma (girls 3rd, boys 8th).

Boys All Around - Sam Peterson, Helena, Mont., 1,150 points.

Girls’ All Around - Tylor Todd, Rexford, Kansas, 1,190 points.