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NRA jump-starts Schalla's rodeo climb

By JOE KUSEK

July 3, 2024

Climbing the rodeo ladder can be a slow process.


It’s more than just riding, roping and racing.


There is learning how to maximize entries, the best way to get from point A to point B and just learning how to compete at each level. So many variables go into being successful.


The ascent can be two rungs up and one rung back. The climb is both physically and mentally demanding.


But some are not so patient.


Wacey Schalla has not just climbed the rodeo ladder, he’s skipped a few rungs on the way up.


Exactly a year ago, the Oklahoma teenager won bull riding titles at Harlowton and Ennis in a 24-hour span during the Northern Rodeo Association’s annual Fourth of July run. His stellar 89-point ride at Harlowton was the high-point mark of 2023.


During his time on the Mountain Health Co-op Tour, he also won at Wilsall and was fourth at Big Timber.


In the 11 months following his last ride in the NRA, Schalla won national high school titles for all-around cowboy and bull riding and won the same gold buckles at the College National Finals Rodeo this past June for Clarendon College.


Now he’s making a big splash at the highest level.


Last weekend, Schalla earned a set of coveted silver spurs by winning the all-around at the Reno Rodeo. It was his seventh all-around crown at a PRCA event. He also has four bull riding and two bareback victories.


Entering the week, Schalla was third in the PRCA all-around standings, 22nd in bull riding and 29th for bareback riding. He leads the Resistol Rookie of the Year standings for the all-around and is second for bull riding and third in bareback riding.


His Clarendon College teammate, Sam Petersen of Helena, is 19th in the current PRCA bareback standings. Petersen won the national high school all-around cowboy title in 2021. Later that same year, he finished second in the NRA bareback standings by a scant $1.19 to Brice Patterson of Bozeman.


“I went up to Cody (Wyoming) last year and bought my NRA card to get me prepared for this step,” said Schalla. “And it (the NRA) most definitely taught me how to travel.”


And win.



Last week

With Mountain Health Co-Op Tour stops in Polson, Big Timber and Opheim, a handful cowboys and cowgirls decided to show their versatility.


Ryley Mapston of Belt earned a tie-down roping check at Polson and a saddle bronc check in Big Timber to put his name in the all-around race.


Clyde Park cowgirl Brooklin Baukol was third in barrel racing at Big Timber and seventh in breakaway roping at Polson to inch closer to the all-around cowgirl race.


Former champion Milee Dailey of Pray earned a breakaway roping check at Polson to put herself in position for another all-around title. She already has enough won in barrel racing.


Opheim offered the opportunity for three cowboys to join the all-around race. Casey Collins of Billings was first in steer wrestling and fourth in tie-down roping while Dillon’s Ryder Gaasch was second in steer wrestling and tie-down roping.


Garrett Larson of Sidney joined the fun with a second in team roping and third place in tie-down roping. He roped with Grady Larson.


Per NRA rules, cowboys just need to earn a check in two or more events to be eligible for the all-around title. In the NWRA, competitors must earn at least $500 in two or more events to be eligible for the all-around cowgirl championship.


Polson winners: Trevor Kay, Chester, bareback; Judd Applegate, Deer Lodge, saddle bronc; Justus Peterson, Dillon, steer wrestling; Cash Trexler, Corvallis, tie-down roping; Chad Turner-Gavin Beattie, Helena, team roping; Alexis McDonald, Gardiner, barrel racing; Meghan McGinley, Bozeman, breakaway roping; Chaney Akin, Cody, Wyoming, junior barrel racing; Darby Stonehocker, Charlo, junior breakaway roping.


Big Timber winners: Trevor Kay, Chester, bareback; Hunter Haskins, Superior, saddle bronc; Caden Fitzpatrick, Polson, bull riding; Ryder Gaasch, Dillon, steer wrestling; Kevin Peterson, Dillon, tie-down roping; Wheaton William-Bryan Lemmon, Torrington, Wyoming, team roping; Jessica Stroop, Helena, barrel racing; Jacey Fortier, Billings, breakaway roping; Chaney Akin, Cody, Wyoming, junior barrel racing; Alannah Scafani, Whitehall, junior breakaway roping.


Opheim winners: Morgan Buckingham, Miles City, bareback; Parker Mothershead, Joliet, saddle bronc; Casey Collins, Billings steer wrestling; Jack Cornwell, Glasgow, tie-down roping; Tanner Anderson-Jesse Benson, Malta, team roping; Julie Brown, Helena, barrel racing; Julie Paschke, Jordan, breakaway roping; Tye Brown, Helena, junior barrel racing; Maddy McEwen, Malta, junior breakaway roping.



Up next

The Mountain Health Co-op Tour concludes its run of seven rodeos in nine days with the Malta Rodeo, July 6-7. The July 6 performance will begin at 6 p.m. and the rodeo will conclude with a 1 p.m. performance on July 7.

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