Sam McCracken

Grant Union High School freshman Sam McCracken at the state finals for cutting in Hermiston.

Grant Union freshman Sam McCracken has qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in Wyoming after placing second in cutting at the state competition.

The state finals for the cutting event was held April 19 at the Hermiston High School Rodeo.

The Oregon High School Rodeo Association State Finals for other events will be held June 12-15 in Prineville.

McCracken has been involved in youth rodeo events, but this was his first run at the cutting event.

Cutting is a competition in which a rider and his horse work as a team to demonstrate the horse’s athleticism and ability to handle cattle.

“Cutting has always been fascinating to me. I’ve always liked how the horses work,” McCracken said. “Last year, we ended up with a horse that could cut, so I decided to give it a try.”

He said his first competition of the season was rough, but he’s been practicing at home and with a trainer in Parma, Idaho, riding his 11-year-old quarter horse, Casino.

McCracken said he’s enjoyed being part of the Harney County High School Rodeo Club. Grant Union doesn’t have a club at this time.

The NHSFR is held July 4-20 in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and McCracken said he might able to attend.

He said it’s “awesome” to qualify for the NHSRF as a freshman.

“I hope to become the state champion in the future,” he said.

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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