A broken ankle. A pandemic. But, to quote country music superstars Brooks and Dunn and Reba McEntire, "Cowgirls Don't Cry."

Perseverance, loads of talent and determination (not to mention her beloved horse, Stick) have carried University of Montana Rodeo Team standout Ashtyn Carlson back to the College National Finals Rodeo, June 12-18, in Casper, Wyoming. That's right, this ain't her first (national finals) rodeo.

UM News Service reports that before her time at UM, Ashtyn attended the College of Southern Idaho, where barrel racing became her most prolific event. In 2019, she was a national champion. She transferred to the University of Montana in hopes of upping her game, with an emphasis on expanding her immense skills to include goat-tying and breakaway roping.

And then...

COVID-19 said "whoa," and so did Ashtyn's ensuing broken ankle. With the 2020 season cancelled and the ankle shelving her in 2021, the nature of the competitive athlete took over and Ashtyn got back into form.

Never has there been a larger crowd than there was this year at the annual UM Spring Rodeo in April at the Missoula Fairgrounds. Montana's 11-member team, including the gal from Loma, Colorado, gave over 2,000 fans each of the two nights a great show. It didn't end there for Ashtyn Carlson. She finished second in barrel racing for total points in the Big Sky Region to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo next week in Casper.

Back to the injury in 2020. These recent achievements are being accomplished on what is less than a 100% healed ankle. Ashtyn says she still feels pain flare up. She is also dealing with "some bone chips floating around" in her knees. She attributes that to a lot of sharp-turn contact around the barrels during races.

A kid with a lot of heart and true grit. And lest we've implied that her career as a Griz is done, that is not the case. Ashtyn will have one more year of eligibility, offered her due to the pandemic.

Here's wishing Ashtyn and Stick an awesome National Finals Rodeo run! GOOD RIDE, COWGIRL.

WOW! Photos from the Newly Opened Missoula Airport

The wait is over and the new terminal at the Missoula Montana Airport opened June 8, 2022. Get a peek inside from the perspective of a passenger.





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