SURPRISE, SURPRISE

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When you're seventh high call back, coming

out the champion doesn't really seem possible-

regardless of the roping or rodeo.

At the National High School Rodeo Finals in Springfield, Ill., in July, that's exactly what happened, but even that wasn't the most surprising thing about the championship team.

"You always go in there expecting to do your best and if you win you win; if not, well you tried," said Quinn Mori, the heeling end of the winning team. "But the steers we had let us win it really. We drew right in the middle of the pen and then our short round steer was really good, which let us get right in the middle of it.

"My buddy, Austin Adams (younger brother of professional ropers Jason and Randon), was high call back at 13 or so on two. I think they had like 10 or 11 seconds to rope their steer in the short round to win it. After the header got the rope on he went to dragging and Austin couldn't get him roped."

While Turley and Mori did their part, in a way the title fell to them. All the teams ahead of them had some sort of trouble-going long, breaking the barrier or legging up.

"You know what, it was probably the most unexpected win I've ever had," said header Haylee Turley. "Coming back to the short round we knew we had a good steer and we roped him in 7.3 and placed second, but every team after that choked. They either missed or legged up or something happened. That just doesn't happen. But it was pretty cool. After the second high call team went, we realized that we couldn't be worse than second. And it was like, 'No way.'"

By now, you've probably figured out the most surprising twist to the NHSRA Finals team roping championship team: the header was female. In the history of the association's finals, no girl has ever won in the team roping. (The Little Britches Rodeo Association has crowned two female team roping champions during their history.)

"It's pretty cool," Turley, who hails from Las Vegas, said. "The boys were mad at me."

All the boys, that is, except the one heeling for her.

"That was the coolest part of it, I think," said Mori.

"She was the first girl to ever do it and people underestimate girls all the time, so it was neat to do it with Haylee like that."

Both were seniors, graduated last spring and had

roped together at the rodeos and ropings in Nevada for

just one season.

"It was just go rope one steer at a time," Turley said.

"We drew good steers and we really didn't have anything

to lose and everything to gain. We trust each other and

I know that no matter what I do he can make up my

time anyway."

It's not as if Mori carried the load. Turley showed just how handy she is by competing in four events and winning the girl's all-around crown as well.

"I made it to nationals in four events," she said. "I won state in breakaway and goat tying and ended up fourth in the barrels.

"The only two events I placed in at nationals were the team roping and the goat tying. No luck in the barrels or breakaway. I definitely knew I had a shot in the all-around. The girls who were ahead of me, one didn't make the short round and the other only had one event. I knew I had a shot at that, but not winning the team roping."

Both the youngsters come from rodeo families.

"My dad (Derrick) taught me to rope when I was young, we're a rodeo family," Turley said. "My mom (Betty Jo) was definitely a big help, has done her share of driving, taking me to junior rodeos all over to compete. Quinn's dad, Sam, if something happened or something went wrong he always helped me through it. He's done a lot to get me where I am."

Mori, meanwhile, grew up in the Northern Nevada town of Tuscarora, surrounded by family and roping.

"My dad and my uncle helped me a lot," he said "My dad, Sam, and my uncle, Pete, are the ones who taught me to rope. We own a family ranch so it was always just everybody pitching in. I've got an older brother, Anthony, and older cousins Michael and Andy. I've always looked up to them and when they were 12 years old and I was six, I was always trying to rope just like them. Everybody helped me and pushed me."

Now that he has graduated, he's got to start pushing himself and he's got his sights set on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

"In the next month or two I plan on buying my PRCA permit and filling it this fall. Next year, I plan on going pretty hard," he said. "I'll be roping with Chad Hoff."

He's got some solid contacts who are already making a name for themselves in the professional ranks. Last year, he high school rodeoed with Jade Corkill, who has hung in the top 20 in the PRCA this year as a heeler. Mori also lives down the road from Cody Hintz, who made his first Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last year with Logan Olson. Finally, through high school rodeo, his family became friends with the Adamses: Randon won the high school title himself, roping with Matt Shiozawa in 1999, qualified to the Wrangler NFR in 2002 and is now in the top five with brother Jason.

As of press time, however, the Moris had more pressing issues at hand. A wildfire had engulfed over 150,000 acres of their ranch-most of it privately owned-and they had lost an unknown amount of cattle.

Turley, on the other hand, is using the oodles of scholarship dollars she won high school rodeoing at Vernon (Texas) College, which boasts such alumni as Rich Skelton, Kory Koontz, Trevor Brazile, Cody Ohl and a host of others.

"I would really like to make the college finals in all three events, team roping, breakaway and goat tying. That's my goal for now," she said. "I don't know what I want to be yet. It changes every day. I'd like something in communications and nursing sounds interesting. Whatever it is, I want to make a lot of money so I can rodeo." SWR

The National High School Rodeo Association 2006 Champions

All-Around Cowboy:

Wyatt Smith - Rexburg, Idaho

All-Around Cowgirl:

Haylee Turley -
Las Vegas, Nevada

Bareback Riding:

Dylan Werner -
Bushnell, Florida

Barrel Racing:

Jordan Muncy -
Cedarvale, New Mexico

Breakaway Roping:

Megan Schrock -
Rock Springs, Wyoming

Bull Riding:

Cody Ford -
Stanfield, Oregon

Tie-Down Roping:

Chase Massengill -
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Boys Cutting:

Adan Banuelos -
Jacksboro, Texas

Girls Cutting:

Raley Radomske -
Ellensburg, Washington

Goat Tying:

Kate Sharon -
Dillon, Montana

Pole Bending:

Kayla Quinley -
Cordova, Tennessee

Saddle Bronc Riding:

Kaleb Asay -
Powell, Wyoming

Steer Wrestling:

Wyatt Smith -
Rexburg, Idaho