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Helena cowgirls Hailey Burger, Grace Lenhardt sign with Montana State for rodeo

Hailey Burger signs
Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 12, 2024

HELENA — From Bruin to Bobcat, Hailey Burger made it official Monday by signing a letter of intent to compete for the renowned Montana State rodeo team.

Burger will be headed to Bozeman in the fall along with fellow Bruins senior Grace Lenhardt, who also signed her letter of intent to the MSU rodeo team at Capital High School Monday morning.

Grace Lenhardt
Helena Capital's Grace Lenhardt signed with the Montana State rodeo team on Monday, March 11, 2024.

Burger, who has been involved with rodeo since she was 7, said she is thankful for her parents, coaches and teammates supporting her every step along the way.

“I’m pretty excited, it’s a big step into the future and there’s a lot of opportunity there, they have great support, so I am super excited to see where that goes," proclaimed Burger.

One of the main factors in her decision was how much Burger truly enjoys the team and family aspects of rodeo competition.

“I talked to a lot of different coaches and the location was one of my big factors," she said. "I am a homebody, so I didn’t want to be too far from home, and the opportunities there, the support again, also the practice facilities as well as the team continuity is great. They have a lot of team members, so you can learn lots from each other."

Burger expressed how thrilled she is just to be able to compete at the college level.

“I think it's exciting to know that it’s not ending yet and that I have four more years to rodeo in an association and then possibly pro rodeo," she said. "My end goal is to make the CNFR at some point. I think that it’s very doable, especially with the opportunities that they have (in Bozeman),” added Burger.

The MSU women’s rodeo team placed second last year after winning the College National Finals Rodeo championship in 2021, and with two new editions coming straight out of Capital High — Burger and Lenhardt — third-year coach Kyle Whitaker seems eager to get back to and remain in that No. 1 spot.

"Now that we have these recruits signed, we’ve already shifted our attention to getting ready for our spring rodeo which is April 11-14 in the fieldouse on campus," Whitaker said. " That’s coming up fast and we’re practicing hard, working hard, trying to get ready for that.”

"At Montana State, we want to get the top talent from the state to stay within the state, so it was real important to get these two girls. They're going to be great student-athletes and that's exactly what we're looking for at Montana State," he added.

Burger, a three-sport athlete who seems to excel in every sport she attempts, will be headed to Bozeman later this summer with Lenhardt as they get set to rodeo for one of the best programs in the nation.

“First of all, I’ve always been a Bobcat (fan). It’s always been my childhood dream to rodeo for MSU,” said Burger, who will compete in barrels racing, breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping.