BISHOP — Two state champions and six national qualifiers.

The Magnificent 7 recently wrapped up a successful run at the California High School Rodeo Association’s (CHSRA) state championships that were held from June 10-16 in Bishop.

Santa Ynez High School junior Maggie Usher won the state championship in goat tying.

Arroyo Grande High freshman Fallon Ruffoni rode off with the state’s pole bending championship.

Usher and Ruffoni led a contingent of 28 high school cowgirls and cowboys at the state championship tournament from California’s District 7 — the Magnificent 7 — which includes high schools in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties.

The top four in each event qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) which started Sunday in Rock Springs, Wyo., and runs through Saturday, July 21.

Templeton’s Ashley Lewis will be joining Ruffoni in Rock Springs in pole bending after her third place finish at the state championships.

Righetti High sophomore Regan Fowler is also headed to the Nationals, finishing third in girls’ cutting.

On the boys’ side, Chance Leatherman, a sophomore at Simi Valley’s Santa Susana High, earned a spot in Rock Springs after winning the first go-round and the Reserve State Championship in reined cow horse.

And Maggie Usher’s older brother Ethan, a recently graduated senior at Santa Ynez High, is going in two shooting events after finishing in second place in the .22 light rifle and fourth in trap shooting.

Ethan Usher also finished seventh in steer wrestling. His best run was 10.31 seconds in the second go-round.

Ruffoni won the first go round of pole bending with a 20.875 second run. Ruffoni came back to win the progressive (third) round in 20.577 and finished second in the short go (fourth round) to win the title.

Sammy Massey finished 15th, Maggie Usher 30th and Josie Pereira 42nd in pole bending.

Ruffoni just missed qualifying for the Nationals in a second event, finishing fifth in breakaway roping.

Usher was among the leaders throughout the goat tying competition. Her 7.11 second run in the short go won her the championship by the narrowest of margins — .01 seconds better than District 1’s Shelby Dunning.

Three District 7 riders came ever-so-close to a Nationals spot in goat tying. Bakersfield Independence High's Brooklynn Sitton, who is allowed to compete in District 7 instead of District 6, Templeton’s Cora Stewart and Newbury Park High’s Lauren Hopkins finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, with Solvang’s Sadie Noblitt finishing 22nd.

In girls cutting, Massey just missed qualifying for the Nationals in girls cutting with a fifth place finish. Santa Ynez High’s Lauren Flaherty finished ninth with Riley Gajdos 13th, Kathryn Varian 18th, Pereira 21st and Noblitt 24th.

Massey won the first round of girls’ cutting and Flaherty tied for first in the second round at the state tournament.

In reined cow horse, Hopkins had a seventh place finish with Noblitt 10th and Sitton 15th.

Noblitt was also up in breakaway roping, finishing 22nd with Hopkins 24th and Maggie Usher and Varian finishing 41st and 42nd, respectively.

Noblitt was the top Magnificent 7 barrel racing finisher at 10th with Jesslyn Black right behind in 11th place. Alia Lautrip was 14th, Carissa Cuellar 24th and Massey 28th.

Among the locals, Righetti High’s Cutter Machado had the best state tournament run in tie down roping with a 10th place finish. Joshua Robinson was 17th and Rhett Varian 19th. Templeton High’s Jared Javadi and Righetti High’s Tanner Patino also competed.

Machado and Patino finished eighth in team roping. Templeton High teammates Clay Simmons and Blayne Twisselman finished 10th, Cora Stewart and Pereira wound up 28th, Rhett Varian and Ryan Jennings finished 34th and Lewis and Hayden Taylor finished 37th.

Behind Ethan Usher in .22 light rifle, Javadi finished sixth and Rhett Varian eighth.

In boys cutting, Patino, Javadi and Machado came close to winning a spot in the Nationals, finishing sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively.

The six qualifiers from District 7 will be among the 55 young men and women representing the state ath the National Finals.


Sports Editor

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