VAUGHN — After four years of competing, Power’s Olivia Grimsley is at last going to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She qualified after taking second in pole bending at state in Baker back in early June.
“I remember the announcer in the short-go saying that this is one of the top girls in the state and that really hit home,” Grimsley said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m finally here.’ So that felt really good.”
Barrel racing is actually Grimsley’s favorite event. She even got her horse Hotshot last year specifically for the event. But then she tried him on the poles, and with steady improvement over two years, a trip to nationals awaits in just a couple weeks.
“My freshman, sophomore and junior year I had a tough go of it in the pole bending. It’s a hard event. You got 12 times, at least, to make a mistake,” Grimsley said. “And it was never my favorite, but this year, having Hotshot and having a good year, it’s definitely become one of my favorite events.”
Grimsley stuck with pole bending because of her coaches and biggest influences: her grandpa “Papa” Lennie and her mom, Casey.
“Traveling to and from the rodeo gets kind of tough, living with your coach. But they’re definitely my biggest influence and they push me to be my best,” she said.
Each one brings a different approach to Grimsley.
“Grandpa, he’s always, ‘Go for broke. Go as fast as you can.’ Mom’s like, ‘Just keep it clean. Just have a nice run.’ So it’s a good balance,” Grimsley said.
Grimsley plans on competing in the Montana NRA circuit and then continuing rodeo in college. But with no more pole bending after high school, her focus is on nationals. She practices six days a week, including once a week at the 406 Arena in Vaughn.
“I’ve got to make my runs down in Rock Springs count because it’s the last time I get to run them,” she said.
Nationals run the week of July 14 through July 20. Grimsley is set to ride on Tuesday and Thursday.