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RHS ECHO: Online student news

RHS ECHO: Online student news

Hedge rides broncos at national competition


Bucking broncos, kicking up dust and holding on for dear life aren’t generally the first things that come to mind when someone brings up sports, but this is the life of Rolla High School senior Cole Hedge.

Hedge’s passion led him to one of the largest rodeos in the world this July. The National High School Finals Rodeo was hosted in Gillette, Wyoming, where an estimated 1,700 finalists from 44 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand competed in 16 events for a world championship title. 

Hedge has been familiar with the rodeo scene for quite awhile. 

“I got started when I was a little, riding sheep and then I started riding bucking bulls,” said Hedge. “I made it as a number twelve in the world two years in a row riding bucking bulls, and then I got into a bad wreck. I took time off and then started riding what they call Ranch Bronc.”

Hedge has found support through his older brother and many others as he has recovered from injuries and made the switch to Ranch Bronc riding.

“I’m very thankful for the people that I did have around to support me. My older brother supported me as much as he could when he was around, and my girlfriend’s parents really supported me and pushed me to keep doing as best I could do. And even though I got injured over the summer…I still pushed through and did a little bit of physical therapy around the house to keep [myself] in shape,” said Hedge. “Everybody’s family kept me motivated because there were points where I just wanted to give up.”

Ranch Bronc riding holds a level of difficulty and risk that typical sports don’t have. In competition, the contestant rides ranch-bred horses that have never been ridden before. The horse is unfamiliar to the rider’s weight, movement and cues. The rider has the dangerous task of staying on the horse for as long as possible. Part of Hedge’s tactic is to stay focused and level-headed when he’s competing.

“When you get on and back on that horse, your mind just goes completely blank. I mean, you get an adrenaline rush. It’s out of this world and you can’t describe it. Just something that’s kind of there in the middle when it’s going down…when you get that mindset and you just focus on looking down that horse’s neck,” said Hedge.

Seasoned riders tend to get into a common headspace that Hedge has learned to avoid.

“I mean, there’s not really much you can go wrong on besides getting too big of a head,” said Hedge. “People ride horses and start doing good for themselves and then they get a big head and that’s where everybody starts messing up…they say they can ride everything you throw underneath them. Then they’ll get on something that’s not that bad of a horse and get bucked off. You gotta stay level headed and stay down to earth about what you’re doing.”

Though the dust has settled from this competition, Hedge can’t wait to get back into the saddle.

“I’m gonna go into my workforce and then get my PRCA card. That’s the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association. And I’ll continue with [Ranch Bronc riding] while I go to work,” said Hedge.

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About the Contributor
Abigail Kestle
Abigail Kestle, Sports Editor
Hi, I’m Abby Kestle. This is my second year as the sports editor of ECHO. I’m a senior and I participate in soccer, Society of Women Engineers, NHS, and more. I enjoy photography, listening to music, and watching sports.