Strathmore’s Keilan Kugler (17) recently became the Alberta High School Rodeo Association (AHSRA) Reserve Champion Team Roper, and qualified to compete at the National High School Finals in Wyoming.

Kugler earned his newest accolade alongside his partner, Chet Kraft (17), during the High School Rodeo provincials, hosted during the first weekend of June in Stettler. 

“That was pretty cool, we were down there for – it is two go rounds and your short go, and we had actually won the first round and the second round, and squeaked in there, ending up reserved,” said Kugler. “I was pretty excited, it is a lot of hard work and determination to be able to be there, and then you go up against 36 other teams out of Alberta. So, that was pretty dang cool.”

Kugler explained he started into roping at roughly eight years old, following in his parents’ footsteps as they were both previously involved in rodeo sports themselves. 

He added the sport is something he has developed an itch for and is practicing as often as possible, be it on a roping dummy or with live animals. 

“I am rarely caught without a rope in my hand, usually get in trouble with it a few times a day – and that is no word of a lie,” Kugler joked. “Usually, if you see me walking around, I am doing something and it involves a rope, and I practice a few times a week. I rope the dummy lots by myself, and then we team rope on live cattle.”

As Kugler prepares to attend the National High School Finals in Gillette, Wyoming, he is excited for the competition to kick off. 

Confident in his abilities, he has a long list of previous titles to back up his sentiment, including having won the 2022 ProAm at the Eli Gosling Memory Lane roping, the team roping at the Chinook Finals, and the Crossfield Rodeo, just to name a few. 

Kugler has also recently acquired his pro rodeo card to continue advancing through rodeo competition venues both locally and internationally. 

“You just find that things that you really like and you devote every ounce of your pride and dedication that you have got into it. It is something that I wake up hungry for,” he said. “If you want something enough, you will go get it, and if you put enough blood and sweat into something and keep pushing, even though it is not working, it eventually pays off.”

The 2023 National High School Finals Rodeo will take place from July 16-22.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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