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Wyoming’s Fuchs national all-around cowboy

Written by Jennifer Womack
Casper — Wyoming High School Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls recently returned from Farmington, N.M. with saddles, belt buckles and good memories in tow. Topping it all off, A.J. Fuchs of Teton Village came home carrying the national all-around saddle.
    Fuchs acquired points by taking seventh in the cutting and eighth in the team roping with heeler Matt Schieck of Casper. Earning 807 points toward the title, Fuchs outpaced his nearest competitor, Cameron Hopper-Craig of Battle Mountain, Nev. by 165 points.
    Despite the point difference, Fuchs says he wasn’t sure until 12:30 a.m. Sunday that he’d won the title. Thinking that he may have won, he anxiously waited as the final results were tallied. “It’s definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever had happen to me. I was pretty overjoyed when they announced it,” says Fuchs.
    Going into the final go round performance on Saturday evening, July 25 Fuchs says he knew he was one of a few boys still competing in two events. Winning the all-around hadn’t even crossed his mind until he found out he was leading the race for the award after the first go around when he took fifth in both cutting and team roping.
    Fuchs’ prizes include a saddle, a buckle, a Resistol hat, Ariat boots, a jacket, a bag, a horse blanket and scholarships from Wrangler, Ariat and the National High School Rodeo Association. He plans to attend Central Arizona College beginning next month where he’ll study equine and agriculture science and compete at college rodeos in team roping. Following college he says he’d like to spend some time rodeoing professionally with a goal of qualifying for the NFR.
    Fuchs’ parents are Junie and Lena Fuchs of Teton Village. “I’d like to thank all the people who helped get me there,” he says, mentioning everyone from his parents to those who helped push his steers at the rodeos.
    Wyoming’s last all-around cowboy at the national event was in 1991 when Lynn Sheehan of Baggs earned the title. Other past winners from the Cowboy State include John King who won the award in 1970 and again in 1971. King was the 1971 saddle bronc riding champion and in 1970 won the national bull riding title. Gary Frank won the award in 1962 after winning both the saddle bronc and bareback riding championship titles that same year.
    J.R. Vezain of Cowley rode to the 2009 national bareback championship by riding three broncs for a combined total score of 223 points. Yance Day of Tahlequah, Okla. trailed in second with 217 points.
    Wyoming has a successful history in the national bareback riding competition. Thomas Baker won the award in 2004, Mark Garrett in 1982 and 1984, Wayne Graves in 1968 and Frank in 1961 and again in 1962.
    Megan Belus of Buffalo roped three calves in 9.498 seconds to take second place in the breakaway. “It’s a lot warmer there than is it here,” laughs Belus of the trip to Farmington. She says her second place finish earned her a buckle and $900 in scholarship money.
    A junior and the daughter of Dave and Lisa Belus, Megan has new goals in mind for the 2009-2010 high school rodeo season. “I’d like to go back to the finals in more events than pole bending and roping.” In working toward those goals, Belus competes with a certain philosophy in mind. “You have to take it one rodeo at a time no matter how big the rodeo is,” says the soon-to-be high school senior. “You have to compete against yourself. You’re competing against the clock.”
    Belus’ teammate Devin Nicholls of Kinnear trailed closely behind her in third place with three calves roped in 9.571 seconds. Nichols was also a contender for the national all-around cowgirl title, finishing the rodeo in ninth place.
    Jordan Thurston of Lance Creek tied three goats in 24.606 seconds to earn reserve national champion honors. Thurston says she was slower than she would have liked on her first two goats. She made up for it in the short go, tying her goat in 7.2 seconds. It was the fastest time of the week. Finishing the 2008 finals in third place, Thurston says she was determined to improve upon last year’s performance.
    Thurston will attend college in Gillette this fall where she’ll be a member of the college’s up-and-coming rodeo team. She says she’ll compete in the breakaway, barrel racing, goat tying and possibly team roping. “I definitely couldn’t have gotten there without my parents,” says Thurston of her success in high school rodeo.
    Luke Camino of Clearmont threw three steers in 13.276 seconds to earn reserve champion honors in the steer wrestling.
    Tim Malm of Albin roped three calves in 31.439 seconds to take second place in the national tie-down roping competition. Malm says he took second in the first go with a nine-second run. After the second go he was sitting in 11th place. Roping his calf in the short go in 8.342 seconds, he moved into second place in the average. “Wyoming did really good,” says Malm. “We had a really good short go, the whole team for Wyoming.”
    Malm, the son of Howard and Dixie Malm, will attend Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo. this fall. He plans to compete in calf roping at the college rodeos. Scholarships earned as part of his recent win will help fund his education.
    In the team standings, Wyoming ended up sixth overall. Texas was the top team followed by Utah, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma and then Wyoming.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..