Monday, June 27, 2016

Nelz Vance represents Alberta at NJHFR finals

Nelz Vance

Christian Davis - Pincher Creek's Nelz Vance rose to the third place in Alberta for Junior High Rodeo Chute Dogging.  This is his first year competing in the event.  It earned him a 10 day trip to Lebanon Tennessee for the 68th annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR), held June 19-25 by the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) .

I caught up with Nelz at the Pavilion in Pincher Creek a week before the big trip. He was there practicing on calfs twice the size of those he faces in competition. Nelz is th generation in the area. His family began homesteading close to Twin Butte in 1898. "We still live in the same house," explained his dad Todd Vance.

According to the NJHFR, this year's finals "drew 1,049 contestants from 42 different states, three Canadian provinces and Australia to rope and ride for scholarship dollars, jackpot money and prizes."
"The Junior High Division was created within the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) in 2004 for sixth- through eighth-graders as a feeder system into the high-school ranks, and now fields more than 2,500 junior-high students in 13 different events."

"Don't look back, you're not going that way." - NHSRA

I caught up with Nelz a week before his trip to Lebanon. He's a 14 year old grade 8 student. He's been seen in these pages plenty of times before, particularly as a hockey player and a member of the 4-H Rocky Mountain Swine Club.  He's even written a few 4-H stories for us.  He was practicing at the Pincher Creek Pavilion on steers twice the size of those he faces in competition.  First I learned that for chute dogging the gate must open from the left. Nelz also participates in team roping and bulldogging, "same thing as this, but off a horse. There is a hazer but he just hazes."

When asked why he chose rodeo, Nelz answere: "My brothers are doing it, so I said I would give it a try. I'm built for it, so I thought I would try it out."

"I can bulldog a steer in 2 point something seconds, and the guy that won it last year, he was in the threes.. (seconds). If I'm on my game, and stay consistent, I have a good chance."

"I looked at the history, and if the steers are the same size, I bulldog it in an average of 2.5. When I'm bulldogging steers like this, then I go to steers half their size, it's pretty easy."

I think of Nelz as a quiet person who accomplishes (based on interviewing him about hockey), a supposition he, his dad, and his older brother Chaz all laughed at.  "I can get loud."

At the finals in Lebanon Nelz placed 10th in his event on June 20 (Performance 3) with a time of 6.18.  He placed fifth on June 24 during his first go (Performance 10) with a much improved time of 3.02.  He repeated that feat in his second go, but that placed him 11th for the go.  A 10th place finish in the short go placed him 16th in the final overall average, in a field of 125.  That's also a long way from his 44th place standing midway through the rodeo.  In his first year of chute dogging. (source). I haven't spoken to Nelz since then yet, but we will be catching up with him as the summer rolls along.

Alberta's boys finished 20th in the NJHFR aggregate final standings.  Alberta's girls finished 31st.  Team Alberta finished 25th overall.

Rodeo season begins again for Nelz in September.  He says he is contemplating a return to hockey as well.

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