by nathan oster
Jayce Sorensen has spent most of his summer travelling around the region, looking for miniature bulls to ride. He’s found them at rodeos in South Dakota and Oklahoma, but it didn’t all come together for him until last week at the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.
The son of Brent and Becky Sorensen of Greybull, Jayce was one of only two miniature bull riders to post scores in all four of his rides in Cheyenne. A clutch performance in the short go, which was the final ride of the competition, clinched first place for the young cowboy.
Jayce, who will be a seventh grader this fall at GMS, said it was his first time riding bulls at Cheyenne Frontier Days. His lack of experience at that setting didn’t impact his performance.
He won the first go, posting a score of 79 on a bull named Tiger, then scored a 77 on Midnight Express in the second go and a 79 on a bull named Mighty Mouse in his third to put himself in position to win it all with a good ride in the short go.
It wouldn’t be easy, though. Jayce led second-place Brenson Bartlett of Cheyenne by just a point going into the short go, but he rose to the occasion, posting an 81 (again on Mighty Mouse) compared to Bartlett’s 79 to claim this year’s mini bull riding title.
So what’s his secret?
Jayce said, “I just try to do the same thing every time. The most important thing is to stay focused.”
He said the eight seconds that riders are required to post a score “take a really long time” when you’re on the bull. “But everything is really fast action.”
Jayce said he pulled a groin muscle once and has been stepped on a few times, but has never been seriously hurt riding bulls and responded “not really” when asked if he was afraid of getting hurt.
He said his performance in Cheyenne was the highlight of his summer, adding that it was witnessed by several of his sponsors — his primary ones this year are Bulletproof Builders, Gregory’s Auction, Laird Sanitation, A&W and Tangle Ridge Outfitters — and of course, by members of his family cheering him on from the stands.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Becky. “We’ve been traveling all summer with Jayce. He qualified for the National Junior High Rodeo finals, which were in Huron, S.D. He didn’t ride real well there. Then we went to Guthrie, Okla., for the Little Britches. He was in five events there — some roping and also bull riding.
“He’d been struggling all summer with his bull riding, so for him to go to Cheyenne, ride all four of the bulls and do as well as he did, I’m just excited for him,” she said. “Like athletes in other sports, kids in rodeo go through highs and lows too. It hadn’t been the best summer for him, but he managed to turn it around.”
Jayce will be going to a National Finals Rodeo junior qualifier this weekend in Idaho Falls, Idaho. After that, there are rodeos in Bozeman, Mont., on Aug. 10 and in Darby, Mont., the week after that.
As it was last year, Jayce’s goal is to qualify for the Junior National Finals Rodeo later this year in Las Vegas. Four bull riders from each region get to go, and as of Monday, Jayce was sitting in third place.
Becky said it’s a thrill to watch her son compete, but admits that she gets nervous for him. “Of course I do. But at the same time, I’m a firm believer that our destinies are already decided, so I try not to worry about it too much.
“I never pray for him to win or for good rides, but I always pray that he does his best and is able to walk out of the arena when he’s done.”