Sports & Recreation

Hollister teens punch ticket to rodeo nationals

Two will represent San Benito County in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Months of practice, triumphs and traveling long miles all come to a head for two local teens competing at the National High School Rodeo Finals. Members of the California High School Rodeo Association District 4 are in competition at the national level in Rock Springs, Wyoming, from July 14-20.

Jake Bourdet and McKenna Wood of Hollister beat out hundreds of contestants to place in the California High School Rodeo State Finals, which took place in Bishop in mid-June. 

To qualify for the national rodeo, contestants are required to compete at the state level. To make it to the state finals, students have to be ranked in the top five in their district for their events.

Bourdet, who recently finished his junior year at San Benito High School, wrapped up his third year in the California High School Rodeo Association with a state champion title in tie-down roping. This year will be his third appearance at nationals. He qualified for the National Junior High Rodeo Finals in 2016, as well as the National High School Rodeo Finals in 2018.

“I am looking forward to competing against the best calf ropers from all over the United States,” Bourdet said. “I am honored to get to represent District 4 and the state of California because not many kids get the opportunity to represent us at a national level.”

Wood, a graduate of San Benito High School, qualified for nationals in the breakaway roping category after a fourth-place finish. 

This will be her first appearance at nationals. She will attend West Hills College in the fall and compete on the school’s rodeo team. 

“I am looking forward to roping and hanging with the best people all over the United States,” she said. “It’s a big step that I’ve never got the chance to do, and now I do.” 

Lilla Bell and Tucker Bourdet of Hollister also qualified for nationals, but will not be competing. 

Live broadcasts of the National High School Finals Rodeo performances will air on To follow your local favorites at nationals, visit for complete results.

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Blaire Strohn

Blaire Strohn was a popular and vivacious reporter for BenitoLink. Blaire passed away Sept. 25, 2019 after doing her best for years to heroically ignore the limitations of Cystic Fibrosis. Despite these challenges, she was a graduate student at Oklahoma State University focusing on International Agriculture. Blaire also graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelors Degree in Agriculture Communications. Born and raised on a cow/calf operation ranch in Paicines, Blaire was passionate about the agriculture community and western way of life.