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High School Rodeo: Desert Hills cowgirl, Carbon cowboy team up for fastest time

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We’ll see how the round goes, and maybe we can win the prize in the round or the average. We’ll see. …We had a good day today. – Kassie Cattoor

HEBER CITY — Kassie Cattoor’s ability to throw a rope around a sprinting steer convinced Carbon senior Zach Jensen to make the Desert Hills cowgirl a proposition.

“I’ve been watching Kassie rope for a really long time,” Jensen said after he and Cattoor earned the fastest time (8:46 seconds) in Friday morning’s team roping event in the second round of competition for the Utah High School Rodeo Finals. “I didn’t have a partner for my senior year, and I thought Kassie would be a really good one.” So the Carbon High cowboy asked the Southern Utah cowgirl if she might be the header to his heeling.

She said yes.

“Me and Zach have been friends for a long time, and he ropes really good,” she said laughing.

A new partner wasn’t the only obstacle the two had to overcome en route to this week’s state finals. Jensen’s roping horse had to undergo surgery so he’s been riding a younger horse the second half of the season.

Their new partnership, a young horse and even a bit of rain didn’t seem to bother Cattoor and Jensen as they earned the best performance and gave themselves a shot at making Saturday’s championship round.

“This is what we’re used to,” Jensen said laughing. “It’s been raining a lot this year.” Added Cattoor, “We’re used to hail and everything.”

The pair isn’t sure how much damage they can do in the standings, or even if they can win a trip to nationals, something that would be a first for both of them. But they know the better they ride and rope each day, the better their chances of winning prizes becomes.

“We’ll see how the round goes, and maybe we can win the prize in the round or the average,” Cattoor said with a glance at Jensen. “We’ll see. …We had a good day today.”

One thing they both agree on is that the PRCA needs to start allowing women to team rope. Right now, the only event in which women can compete is barrel racing, although there is a women’s pro rodeo circuit where cowgirls compete in every event, including bull and bronc riding.

But Cattoor sees change coming simply because of the number of women competing in team roping in just about every other circuit or level.

“That’s going to change,” she said. “(PRCA officials) think girls aren’t strong enough to do it, but then go to a team roping (event), and girls kick boys' butts a lot of times, nothing against Zach.” To which he responds, “Yeah, sure.”

And then he said gender doesn’t really matter when it comes to roping.

“She’s as good as anybody I’ve roped with,” he said. “I’d love to (have women compete on the PRCA). It’s hard to get something new to come in.”

Cattoor said other women are already working on changing minds.

“They’re pushing it and trying to get it changed,” she said. “And that’s how things will go.” Tenille Rhodes was Friday morning’s fastest barrel racer and she’s enjoying a great week on a young horse that she and her mom trained themselves.

“We’ve had him a little over a year now,” said Rhodes, who sits in third place in two events (barrels and pole bending) with an opportunity to earn a trip to next month’s nationals. “He was just kind of a project; we didn’t expect him to be that great. She put a couple of months on him, getting him patterned, and then I started riding him, getting him more seasoned.” But it was more than just a smart horse who loves to run fast.

“I just really clicked with him,” she said. “It was awesome. He’s smart and good-minded. And he always tries 110 percent.” The second round of the finals finished Friday night with the top 10 in each event earning a shot at Saturday’s championship round. The top four (averaged over the entire season, including the state finals) will make up the Utah team that will compete at nationals next month.

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