SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - It's been a week or more since contestants arrived at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the start of the 52nd annual National High School Finals Rodeo. They've been battered and bruised through three rounds of grueling competition, but on Sunday, several stood up as national champions.
Randon Adams of Logandale and Moapa Valley High School quite possibly had the biggest smile, standing on the podium to accept the award for winning the coveted all-around cowboy crown.
A year ago, Adams finished third in boys cutting as Nevada teammate Bryce Barnes took home top honors at the nationals in Gillette, Wyo. He also combined with Matt Shiozawa to win the national team roping title.
Barnes, a Douglas High School graduate who rides for the Carson High Rodeo Club, finished third in the final boys cutting standings, just two points short of defending his 1999 national championship.
And Adams moved out of the shadow of his teammates thanks to a couple of stellar runs. He combined with younger brother, Jason, to finish second overall in team roping. The Adams brothers finished fourth in Sunday's final round and wound up with an average time of 28.533 seconds for three runs. And Randon won the final round of boys cutting and finished eighth overall in a close event.
Derek Denton of Sterling, Utah, finished as the national cutting champion with a combined total of 437 points, one better than Mike Sanders of Ft. Myers, Fla. Barnes came into the day tied for first, but was seventh on Sunday and ended up third in the overall standings with 435 points.
The Logan brothers and Barnes also helped Nevada finish fourth in the state team standings. Utah won the team championship with 5,590.83 points, followed by Texas (5,462.5), Oklahoma (3,378.33) and Nevada (3,082.5).
Tisha Burress of Muskogee, Okla., won the all-around cowgirl title. Jennifer Lytle of Utah finished as the all-around runner-up for the second year in a row.
Randon Adams, left, and his brother Jason, right, both of Logendale compete in the team roping event at the National High School Finals Rodeo on Sunday in Springfield, Ill. Randon placed first in the All-Around Cowboy division while Jason placed third. An unidentified judge, rear red shirt, watches.