Dedicated Practice Readies Cowgirl For Kansas High School Rodeo Finals

“Nobody has to make me practice. I love to rope. I’m always ready and anxious to practice to be the best I can be, so I can win.”

That’s paid off for Michaela Peterson of Council Grove, who was recently named to attend Garden City Community College on a rodeo scholarship and be a member of the rodeo team there.

“I’ve been rodeoing all of my life. It’s in my genes I guess you’d say, and the desire to win only increases,” contended the 18-year-old cowgirl, a recent Council Grove High School graduate.

College is lined up, but first things first as Peterson recently completed competing in 13 Kansas High School Association sanctioned rodeos during the fall and spring.

“Now, I’m getting ready for the state finals at Topeka, June 11-14, and hope to qualify again for the National High School Finals at July 13-19, in Rock Springs, Wyoming,” Peterson stated.

As all-around cowgirl, Michaela Peterson of Council Grove hands in the air completes her goat tying run during the February 16, 2014, Heartland Youth Rodeo Finals at Kingman. (Kent Kerschner Photography, fotocowboy.com)
As all-around cowgirl, Michaela Peterson of Council Grove hands in the air completes her goat tying run during the February 16, 2014, Heartland Youth Rodeo Finals at Kingman. (Kent Kerschner Photography, fotocowboy.com)

At the state year end event, Peterson will be competing in goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping. “I went to nationals last year in goat tying, and I’m standing fourth in the state, now. So, if I can have a good finals, I’ll be able to compete there again,” she recognized.

Actually, the cowgirl is following in the steps of her parents, Matt and Dustin Peterson. “They both competed at the National Little Britches Rodeo Finals and the Kansas High School Finals Rodeo when they were in high school.” Peterson said.

Additionally, both her dad and mom attended college on rodeo scholarships. “Dad was on the team at Pratt Community College, and Mom competed for Colby Community College,” credited Peterson, adding that both parents completed degrees at their respective schools.

“I considered going to those junior colleges, but after visiting the Garden City campus, I decided to accept their rodeo scholarship offer, compete on the rodeo team and major in agriculture business,” said Peterson, noting that Jim Boy Hash is the rodeo team coach there.

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Serving as a header, Michaela Peterson of Council Grove shows true form while team roping at a Heartland Youth Rodeo during February in Kingman. (Kent Kerschner Photography, fotocowboy.com)

Also following in their parents and her big sister’s boot tracks, Beau Peterson competes in the Kansas Junior High School Association and is hoping to qualify for that group’s national finals competition in Des Moines, Iowa, June 22-28. She’s presently ranked first in the state breakaway roping, third in goat tying and fourth in ribbon roping, hoping to compete in all three of those events at the national competition.

“I’ve really been competing in junior rodeos about ever since I could get on a horse,” Michaela Peterson reflected. “Riding my horse called Doc; I competed in the barrel racing and pole bending and won the yearend all-around saddle in the Kansas Junior Rodeo Association in 2005.”

Moving into the Kansas Junior High School Association, Peterson changed emphasis on her events. “I really like to rope and tie goats, so breakaway, team roping and goat tying have been my concentration and practice for the past several years,” she said.

Also recipient of a scholarship presented by the Morris County Youth Rodeo Association this spring, Peterson has competed in the annual Youth Rodeo sponsored by that group at Council Grove for many years.

As freely admitted, Peterson has a regular practice schedule. “I tie goats a couple dozen times every day and also rope the calf head dummy and steer head dummy each an equal number of times,” she contended.

“We have breakaway calves and team roping steers, so I try to practice live runs at least twice, if not three times a week, running a dozen to 15 head of each during a session,” Peterson said.

“I’m really fortunate to have parents who are so knowledgeable about the sport of rodeo. They are the best coaches anyone could ever have. Dad is an outstanding roper and has also been on several top ranch rodeo teams.

“Mom competed in some jackpots, and has been a member of winning teams at many women’s ranch rodeos” Peterson commented.

Generally competing on the heading end of the team roping, Peterson’s high school rodeo heeler is Kassidy Martin.

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Roping is a specialty for Michaela Peterson of Council Grove as she competes in breakaway roping at a Kansas High School Rodeo Association event in Emporia during 2013. (Kent Kerschner Photography, fotocowboy.com)

Despite her dedicated practice, Peterson was quick to point out, “I really have a pair of outstanding horses. I couldn’t do anything without my horses.

“Zanny, a chestnut gelding, is my head horse that I also use in goat tying. Dad trained Zanny, and he’s always been a dependable all-around horse. We just got Zeva, a bay mare, last fall, and she’s working out well for me in breakaway roping,” credited Peterson, recognizing that she’s ridden several different horses over the years.

“You can’t do anything if you don’t have the right horse,” repeated Peterson, adding that the family has additional horses sometimes used in practice sessions, so to not overwork their top competition mounts.

While one might insinuate rodeo is all that Peterson does, it’s quite the contrary. She was a starter on the Council Grove High School Girls’ Basketball Team, being selected as the team’s nominee for the John Goff Inspirational Athlete Award.

“I’ve been a member of the Neosho Valley 4-H Club ever since I was old enough to join, served as the club president, and have shown steers, sheep and horses at the Morris County Fair and other fairs around,” Peterson related.

Also, serving as sentinel, vice president and just completing her term as president, Peterson has been an active leader in the Council Grove FFA Chapter and participated in a number of FFA competitions as well.

So, what’s the future for this quite well-rounded rodeo cowgirl? “Well of course, first is the state finals, then the national high school finals, and hopefully do well enough on the college rodeo team to make the college national finals the next two years, too,” evaluated Peterson, who also competes in United States Team Roping Championship events and shows up regularly at area team roping jackpots.

“After Garden City, I intend to enroll at Kansas State University, hopefully get some rodeo scholarship funds there as well, and continue to qualify for the college rodeo finals. I’ll still be studying ag business with a minor in ag economics, to increase my opportunities for a profession, after I graduate,” related Peterson, who hopes to have some internships while at KSU, to help guide her into a lifetime career.

“I’ll always be tied to agriculture. I’m certain of that, and I’ll always continue to rope at various levels of competition,” forecasted Peterson, who is optimistic for the future of rodeo and horse related competitions.

“There’s no better family spectator entertainment, and no better way for a family to be together and work together than practicing and competing in rodeos and roping competitions,” Peterson concluded.

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