HELENA — Capital High student Hailey Burger had qualified for Nationals twice in junior high, and now has qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo. Burger has qualified in three different events: breakaway, team roping, and goat tying.
“I really wanted to go last year, so not making it last year made me want to go even more. And then going in three events as a sophomore made it even more like achieving. So I'm pretty excited to see the difference between high school competition and junior high competition and just different people,” Burger said.
Burger will be making the trek to Gillette, Wyoming for the finals with her horses, Sniper and Bailey.
“So Sniper is one of my older horses. He's 21 This year, and I breakaway on him. He was originally Dylan's horse, my little brother, but they didn't really quite click. So he got a different horse. And I got to take him. And he gets hyper sometimes. But he just wants to do his job. So Bailey is my goat tying and team roping horse. And I've had her for six or seven years now. And trained her in barrels and poles and goats. And she's been one of my most successful horses,”
And with over $375,000 in college scholarships on the line, Burger is looking forward to her future.
“That's been my dream. That's kind of how I look forward to paying for college. I also want to have some academic scholarships, but rodeoing is my main hope right now…I want to go to MSU. I have other options in my head, but MSU would be my first option.”
And with about five hours of practice a day, she’s set standards for herself heading into nationals.
“ My expectations for nationals are just to be consistent, have smooth runs, not every run is going to be great. And I know that. So I just have to bounce back from the bad ones and move on to the next ones.”
But before Burger heads off to Gillette, she’ll compete in front of her hometown in this weekend’s East Helena Rodeo.
“It's more nerve wracking than in front of other people you don't know. Especially because they're kind of expecting you to do good. So you really want to do good in front of your local people.”
The 74th annual National High School Finals Rodeo kicks off July 17th.