Friday night's finals of the California High School Rodeo Association offered up maybe a little too much suspense for area residents cheering on locals Kayla Inderbieten and Chase Bowen.
Both made it into the finals after the first two go's, Inderbieten in barrels, Bowen in bareback riding.
The prize at the end of Friday's finals was a trip to the National High School Rodeo Association's Finals held in Wyoming in July. Bowen is going, Inderbieten missed it by 0.135 seconds.
Considering the work that goes into high school rodeo and the fact that both athletes made it to the best of the best category is cause for celebration. But, there's always that final, often elusive, prize at the end of the journey.
Bowen went into his final ride in a dead tie at 149 points with Clayton Biglow. The two had swapped points in their first two rides with 74s and 75s. While Bowen has had success at nationals, coming in ninth in 2011 ahead of rock star bareback rider and perennial California champion Casey Meroshnekoff, he'd never claimed the state championship. This is where that luck of the draw comes in. For his final ride, Bowen was awarded a 68. Points are awarded on how well the rider handles an aggressively bucking horse; Bowen's wasn't all that aggressive. Next up was Biglow with a solid ride on a monster bucker and a score of 82. No one needed a calculator to figure out who heads to Wyoming with the championship title.Bowen's going, but in second place.
With the top four barrel riders guaranteed a spot in the California team in Wyoming, Inderbieten was hanging on in fifth place, just 0.011 seconds behind fourth place rider Courtney Wood.
The top 15 riders in Friday's short go were pulling out all the stops, turning in their best runs of the week. Wood, racing eighth, looked to follow suit, but ended with no time after her horse stumbled on the last barrel. Sixth place racer, Taylor Rivera, was set to go just ahead of Inderbieten and turned in what the announcer claimed was an arena record time of 15.724.
Inderbieten knocked 0.3 seconds off her fastest time of the finals, but not enough to move into that fourth spot.