Rodeo ‘sisters’ lead Feather River
They’re practically sisters.
They went to high school together. They rodeo together.
After Kayla Norcutt graduated from Fallon and enrolled at Feather River, her close friend, Sydney Howard, was still in Fallon with two years left in school before taking the next step in her life. Norcutt jumped into the collegiate rodeo circuit, competing at Feather River and helping the program retain its status as one of the best in the West region.
“It is so amazing,” Howard said about her relationship with Norcutt. “Kayla and I have been friends for so long, and now we get to live together and even travel together to rodeos. We push each other in the practice pen, and it’s always a friendly competition.”
This past fall, Howard reunited with her cowgirl sister and both helped Feather River win the West Coast Region and qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo, which begins Sunday in Casper, Wyo. Howard, a freshman, snuck into the goat tying field as an alternate, but Norcutt missed the cut by one.
“I felt fully prepared, and I knew that I had worked very hard but it was still a huge accomplishment to do so well,” said Howard, who was fourth in goat tying with 616 points. “The girls that I have competed against this year are what I believe to be some of the best in the nation.”
For Norcutt, though, it wasn’t the end even though she was devastated that her regional performance in Las Vegas wasn’t her best. Norcutt finished fifth in goat tying with 616 points.
She was elected president for the West Coast Region, with perks that include a paid trip to the National Finals Rodeo in December, a guaranteed trip to next year’s CNFR and an extra year to compete in rodeo. Norcutt is also Feather River’s student president.
“Winning president was a true honor,” said Norcutt, a junior who achieved her associate’s degree last year and is working on her bachelor’s in business through Colorado State’s online program. “There are 136 people in the region and a majority voted for me. Winning this gives me opportunities I could’ve never dreamed of.”
Norcutt, though, will have to live through Howard at this year’s CNFR.
Howard was one of the best goat tyers this season and also finished fourth in the all-around cowgirl standings. She flirted in the top five all season but only the top three quality for nationals. Although she finished fourth, Howard was able to sneak in after Feather River won the regional. She also was named the West Coast Region Rookie of the Year.
“My goal for this year was absolutely to qualify for the CNFR,” Howard said. “I don’t think I ever thought it was ‘very likely’ to happen. I knew there was a possibility. But being in the top four, five all year long and the points being so close all year, I knew that anything could change with one rodeo, or even one run. I just did my best to stay consistent and continued to make solid runs.”
Howard has spent the past couple of months working with her parents, as well as engaging in CrossFit training in Fallon. Her goal next week is to make “three fast, consistent and smooth runs” and qualify in the top 12 for the short-go-arounds. Finishing in the top 10 at the end of the CNFR is the ultimate objective.
“It is basically a full time job, preparing for the finals,” Howard added.
Even though she won’t be alongside her teammate in Wyoming, Norcutt is grateful that Howard came to Feather River this year.
“We grew up together,” Norcutt said. “She’s like a little sister to me and it’s awesome that I can live with someone who came from the same little town as myself.”