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Moe headed to National High School Rodeo Association Finals

Alyshia Moe and Cheetah teamed to win the barrel racing championship at the Minnesota High School Rodeo state competition earlier this summer. Moe and Cheetah also finished third in the pole bending event at state and will compete in both events at the national competition July 18-24 in Gillette, Wyo. Submitted Photo

Alyshia Moe will be in Gillette, Wyo. July 18-24 for the 62nd annual National High School Rodeo Association Finals.

Moe, a freshman at Bemidji High School, earned her trip by winning the barrel racing and finishing third at the pole bending competitions at the state High School Rodeo Association meet this spring in Hugo.

Alyshia was introduced to rodeo and horses at an early age. Her mother, Diane, also competes in rodeo and, at times, even races against her daughter.

"Rodeo is a family affair," Diane said. "I've won a few rodeo races in my day and at the start Alyshia just came along.

"There are different age divisions in rodeo so I can compete at my own level. But often there is an open division and in that division I race against Alyshia," Diane said.

Those head-to-head battles can be spirited and, according to Alyshia, either racer can win.

"If I am riding Cheetah, I usually win but if mom's riding Cheetah she'll win," Alyshia said. "It's the horse that makes the difference."

Cheetah is a 6-year-old quarter horse which also has some thoroughbred blood in her veins. Cheetah and Alyshia have formed a special bond which has translated into success in the rodeo ring.

"Cheetah raced on a track when she was two and three years old and we got her when she was three," Alyshia said. "Mom trained her and she learned really fast.

"To be a good horse (in pole bending and barrel racing) it takes a horse who wants to do it, is willing to go around the barrels and just loves to run. And Cheetah loves to run. It doesn't make any difference where she runs. She just wants to run."

Alyshia received her first horse when she was four years old and she has been competing in rodeos since she turned nine.

"Alyshia likes something with four legs better than she likes a motor," her mother said.

"When I was nine I got a pony named Jazzy," Alyshia said. "He didn't know much about rodeo racing and I didn't know much. So we learned together."

Balance and hand/eye coordination are qualities a successful pole bender and barrel racer needs, according to Alyshia, and she will need to tap into all of her strengths to accomplish her goal at the national rodeo.

"I want to have fun and make the top 10 in all of my runs," she said. "If you are in the top 20 after the two (preliminary) runs you make the short-go (finals)."

Those who qualify for the short-go are given a third run and a competitor's time is determined by averaging the three runs.

Qualifying for the short-go will not be easy, however.

"I'll be competing against kids from the United States, Canada and Australia," Alyshia said. "There probably will be about 1,500 contestants at the rodeo and I think there may be a couple of hundred in my races."

Alyshia can't wait to showcase what she and Cheetah can do although she didn't think this would be the year.

"I'm really excited to be going to nationals, but I'm a little nervous," she said. "I wanted to make this trip but never thought it would happen so soon."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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