By Joe Naiman
Aleigha Elston experienced a whirlwind week recently, graduating from Ramona High School on June 14, then closing her high school rodeo career as California’s breakaway roping champion with a chance at the national title.
Elston qualified for the June 15 breakaway roping short go at the California High School Rodeo Association state finals, which were held June 10-16 in Bishop, and won the average and the state championship. She will end her high school rodeo career at the National High School Rodeo Association national finals July 15-22 in Rock Springs, Wyo.
“It was the most amazing moment of my whole life,” Elston said of winning the state championship. “I’m just really excited.”
The year-end state positions are based on spots in each of the state finals go-rounds, positions in the average (aggregate) at the state finals, and position points carried over from the district standings. Elston was third in the final District 8 standings. San Pasqual’s Macy Devenport was the district champion while McKena Treasure of Chino placed second in the district.
Elston rode 13-year-old Matt at the state finals. Her first two runs both took place June 13. The morning run resulted in a 13th-place time of 4.03 seconds.
“I was happy with that run because I drew a really fast calf,” she said. “It was a good run for the calf that I drew.”
Her June 13 evening run took her 2.22 seconds, which was the fastest time of the rodeo and her fastest time ever.
“Basically all the timing was on,” she said.
The calf she drew didn’t make any surprising moves.
“It pretty much did what I was expecting it to,” she said.
Taylor Biglow of Clements, whose time of 2.57 seconds won the first go-round, was second in the second go-round with a run of 2.7 seconds.
Devenport did not place in the top 10 in either run and was 17th after two go-rounds. The top 15 cowgirls after the first two go-rounds qualified for the short go.
After Elston’s first two runs, the family made the six-hour drive back to Ramona for her June 14 high school graduation. The family then made their second trip to Bishop for the short go.
The top four state finishers qualify for the national finals, and Elston knew that a clean run in the short go would likely qualify her for the rodeo in Rock Springs.
“I wasn’t trying to win the go-round,” she said. “I was just trying to be consistent.”
Her time of 2.55 seconds gave her second place in the short go. “I didn’t even expect to get that.”
Biglow missed her calf. Taylor Prather of Acton won the short go with a time of 2.48 seconds. Elston’s time gave her a first-place average of 8.8 seconds.
Elston’s sister, Ali, made her high school rodeo debut in 2011-12 and placed ninth in the state girls cutting competition. Devenport also qualified for the state finals in girls cutting and placed 16th. Both made the short go at the state finals.
Devenport will be competing at the national finals in goat tying after finishing third at the state finals. She also placed eighth in pole bending at the state finals.
Ramona’s Ben Dukes went to the state finals as a team roping header, partnering with heeler Kiki Corona of Hemet. They qualified for the short go and finished ninth in the state.