HELENA — When you think of rodeo legends to come from the Helena area, it's easy to think of Ty Erickson or some Kesler rodeo stock like "Cool Alley," but there's another name to add to the list, Sam Petersen.
At the 2021 National High School Finals Rodeo, Petersen was named the All-Around Champion and reserve champion in steer wrestling and bareback riding. Petersen noted he was hoping to fade being a reserve champion in bareback riding again, after finishing in the same spot at the last NHSFR, but the luck of the draw wasn't quite on his side.
"I just didn't draw the horse I needed in order to, in order to win the nation. There's kind of a heartbreaker, winning reserve champion two years in a row," said Petersen.
Though bareback is his bread and butter, Petersen noted he's relatively new to steer wrestling and the fact that he was able to pick up a reserve champion nod in that event was an astonishing moment.
"I'm pretty green in the steer wrestling. And it was pretty cool to be able to perform that well and end up reserve world champion," said Petersen.
When all was set and done, Petersen would wind up becoming a champion nonetheless and when his name was called to receive his award Petersen said he didn't know what to think.
“There was two co-reserve world champions in the all-around and after I heard that, I knew I won it and then I got pretty excited then,” said Peterson
"What was the first thought that went through your mind?” asked MTN Sports.
“I don't know. I was going up there to get my saddle,” said Petersen with a smile.
Leading up to that victory, Petersen said it was a winning mentality that was instilled in him that keeps him "doing his job," at a high level every time he goes out.
"I think just growing up around champions, growing up around people that are able to push you to be your best. So then at the same time, you want to be your best," said Petersen before pausing in thought. "I just, I guess I've just always wanted to have that winner's mentality in me. I've always hated performing poorly. And I just, I'm there to do my job."
Though, behind every champion, there's always a team, and Petersen was adamant that it wasn't just him that won the buckle.
"I just like to thank my mom and dad for everything they do. Keeping me on the road, keeping me on good horses. And I just like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for everything."
As for what's next for the young cowboy? Petersen still has a year of high school to wrap up, as he prepares for his senior year at Helena High school before going off to college. Where he plans to go, or study, after graduation is still in flux, but one thing is for sure. Petersen wants to rodeo for many years to come.
"I plan on going to college. Where that is? I don't know yet. And then I just plan on pro rodeoing. I want to get the NFR as quick as I can, and win as much money as I can," said Petersen with a sly smile.