HELENA — In just less than a month, five Helena-area teenagers will be headed to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska. Will and Kaleb Norstrom, Haven Wolstein, Sam Petersen, and Spur Owens will all be competing, and all five got their start in rodeo thanks to their families.
"My grandpa rodeoed, my dad rodeoed, my mom rodeoed. We're just a rodeo family," said Petersen.
"My family just kind of grew up around it. I've always kind of been a part of it," said Will Norstrom.
The Norstroms, a bareback riding duo, are no strangers to the spotlight, competing in numerous rodeos of this caliber across the early stages of their careers. And in terms of preparation for an event like this, the mindset doesn't change. They both just want to keep doing the things that have gotten them to this point.
"Pretty much just the same deal. Just keep working out, staying sharp, getting on every weekend and just stay on your best game," said Will.
"We just try to stay in shape throughout the week and then try and get on bucking horses wherever we can on the weekdays or whatever. Stay in shape, ready for rodeo when the weekend comes around," said Kaleb.
Wolstein, a goat tyer and breakaway roper, finished eighth at last year's High School Finals in the breakaway and said one of the highlights of this year was winning the Montana state high school title for the event because she didn't feel like she had the greatest set of runs and hopes to finish out this year strong with a national title.
"I didn't have the state finals that I wanted to, so when I finished out the short round after a good run to come back with, it was like surprising, but also felt really good," said Wolstein. "I hope it goes well. It will be exciting to travel some place new."
Petersen, a bareback rider and steer wrestler, took the highest individual finish of Montana high schoolers in last year's national finals, with a second-place finish in the bareback. This year hasn't been easy for the Helena Capital High School senior who has been battling injuries, but with a state title and a third-place finish under his belt heading into the finals, he's confident he'll be able to stack up nationally.
"Everything clicked at state, being able to win the state title on the bareback riding, got third in the steer wrestling," said Petersen. "I plan on going there to win. I ended up reserve champion last year in the bareback riding and I want that title this year."
Owens will join the four above at the Finals after qualifying with 109 total points in bareback riding.
The National High School Finals Rodeo kicks off in Lincoln, Nebraska on July 18 wraps up on July 24.