MOUNT AYR — Half of a point.
That’s all that separates Logan Wimer of rural Diagonal from a national championship.
After a week of competition among nearly 1,500 contestants from all across the United States, Canada and Australia, Wimer finished as reserve champion of girls cutting Saturday in the 2013 National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Cutting involves a horse and rider judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd, and keep it away for a short period of time. It involves skill in responding quickly and turning sharply to keep a cow from returning to the herd.
Cheyanne Carpenter of Clements, Calif., was the champion with 434 points on three runs. Wimer, 2013 graduate of Mount Ayr Community High School, was second with 433.5. Finishing third, one point behind Wimer, was Rachel Kerr of British Columbia, Canada.
In Saturday night’s finals, both Wimer and Kerr surpassed runner-up Sadee Smith of Star, Idaho, who was the overall Cowgirl Champion in the 2012 national finals.
“After my short-go Saturday night, I was sitting in third place, five points behind (Carpenter) and one point behind Sadee Smith,” Wimer said. “After my finals run, I was at 144.5 points, just a half-point out of second, but Sadee hadn’t gone yet. She didn’t do very good, I think it was 138, so I was six points ahead of her. But it hadn’t hit me yet until my mom came and gave me a hug.
“When the announcer read the draw, and they second “said second place, Logan Wimer,” that was a cool feeling,” Wimer continued. “It kind of makes all the hard work seem worthwhile.”
The daughter of Brian and Wendy Wimer said finding out she was only .5 of a point out of first place was difficult, but she is still proud of her performance in front of a full house at the Sweetwater Events Complex.
The top 20 contestants based on their average times and scores advanced to the short round on Saturday night. Wimer, who received a custom Gist Silversmith belt buckle and $850 college scholarship for finishing second, was not the only area competitor. But, she was the only one to advance to the finals.
Also competing from Mount Ayr were Riley Weehler in team roping and calf roping; Morgan Quick in girls cutting; and Cody Stackhouse in steer wrestling. Weehler and his partner, Payden Dawson, qualified as state champions in team roping.
They earned their trip to nationals by placing in the top four at the Iowa High School State Finals Rodeo in Waterloo in June.
Also, John Gravlin of Creston was a national qualifier. But, the son of Michelle and Wayne Hanson suffered some bad luck. He sustained a broken wrist while competing in bare back riding early in the week.
For Wimer, it was her second nationals qualification. Two years ago she did not place in cutting at Gillette, Wyo.
“When I went after my sophomore year, it was a really big rodeo and I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Wimer, who plans to major in animal science at the University of Missouri. “This year, I had a different horse.”
“Starlight Gleaming,” known as “Bill” in the barn, was her trainer’s horse, Wimer said, and much more responsive in the competition arena at nationals. Wimer trains in Columbia, Mo., where she will attend college in the fall.
“This horse was more accurate and better with the cows,” Wimer said. “And, I didn’t have as much jitters with the bleachers full every time.”
Wimer won the first round, and was ranked third going into the finals this year.
Preparation was a key to this year’s success, she said.
“I spent a week in Lincoln, Neb., before the finals at a scholarship cutting competition and got second there, too,” Wimer said. “There were tough cows there and it prepared me for nationals.”
Wimer has also competed in breakaway roping and goat tying. But cutting, a useful skill used on the farm, captured her passion.
“The adrenaline rush is there,” Wimer said. “You have two and a half minutes and you really have to concentrate and think about what you’re going to do. The goal is to get three calves cut from the whole herd, and keep the cows calm.”
In all three competitions during the week, Wimer was successful in cutting three calves from the herd.
“I think it’s a cool event to watch,” Wimer said. “It’s concepts used by the old western cowboys, but also still on the day-to-day farm to get a calf separated for shots, that kind of thing.”
Wimer is not competing for a college rodeo team, but plans to stay active in the sport.
“My trainer is right there in Columbia, so I should still be able to enter some cutting competitions,” Wimer said.
Saturday’s championship round is televised nationally as part of the “CinchTown Tour” series on RFD-TV. For more information, visit online at www.NHSFR.org.