A Grant Union High School student brought home the state title in cow cutting at the Oregon State High School Rodeo State Finals, held in Prineville June 18-20.
Sam McCracken, a junior, took first place in boys cutting, an equestrian competition where a horse and a rider demonstrate before a panel of judges both the horse and rider’s ability to handle cattle. He scored a 258 in the final two go-rounds.
McCracken, who has competed in the rodeo event for two years and is student director for boys cutting in Oregon, took second in the state last year and is headed to the National High School Finals Rodeo July 17-23 in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
He said winning the boys championship was really satisfying.
“I almost felt it last year, and it made the satisfaction of this year even better,” he said.
McCracken said the difference in taking the top spot this year was that he and his horse, “Shorty’s Buttercup,” stayed connected throughout the whole ride.
“I kind of had to stay out of her way and let her do her job, and I kind of had to help her along every once in a while throughout the run,” he said.
McCracken said he and the 17-year-old horse have been working together for the last year.
Shorty’s Buttercup, said McCracken, is a year older than he is.
The two of them have been practicing a lot together with nationals right around the corner, McCracken said. He said his coach, David Glasier, despite being confident that he took first in the state, said there were areas he needed to improve on.
McCracken said working on the points that Glasier mentioned kept him busy this past weekend.
“I’m just working with my horse and getting ready to go to nationals,” he said.