Meet the Member Michelle Williams

by

story by Lily Weinacht

The barrel racing fever took hold of Michelle Williams from an early age when she and her sister became the first in their family to rodeo. Since those first junior rodeos astride her pony, Michelle, now 16, is a two-time NHSFR qualifier and the 2018 Silver State International High School Rodeo Barrel Racing Champion. The cowgirl from North Powder, Oregon, is also making her debut in Las Vegas this December. She qualified for the Junior NFR in August after winning the KK Run for Vegas qualifier in Salina, Utah, hosted by the Southwestern Desert Classic. “I was really happy with my run,” says Michelle, who held on to first place with a 15.621. “The horse that I ran I don’t always ride, but he does really good in small pens and it was indoors. I was nervous watching the last couple runs. Before I run, I just try to focus on how I need to ride my horse, and what I need to do to be as successful as I can and keep my nerves calm. One of my parents is usually always down there helping me.”
This was Michelle’s second attempt at qualifying for the Junior NFR this year. After competing at the qualifier in Reno, Nevada, and hitting a barrel to place second, she wanted to make another run for the Junior NFR. “They had super good ground at Salina, and it was a nice indoor arena—I thought it was a cool race down there,” says Michelle, who came home with her qualifier buckle, along with certificates for MVP Exceed 6-Way feed, a Charlie One Horse hat, and a Rusty Spur Ranch Diggs shirt. She’s also competing at the Junior NFR in the breakaway roping after entering a qualifier in Stanfield, Oregon, this summer at Brad and Jodi Goodrich’s arena. “Rodeo is just really rewarding when you win, and you meet tons of really good people and it makes a lot of good memories.”
Michelle competes in the Oregon High School Rodeo Association in barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending, and team roping with heeler Jaxson Rhoden. She was the 2017 OHSRA Rookie of the Year, and also qualified for the NJHFR three times. Her parents, Rosi and Jason Williams, have both team roped, while Michelle and her sister Kimberley, who are the youngest of four siblings, branched into rodeoing. Kimberley competed in the OHSRA as well and is currently a freshman at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, competing on the rodeo team. “My parents have definitely helped me out a lot. They’ve taken me to clinics and made everything possible for us,” says Michelle. “Shane Crossley has helped me with breakaway a ton—I’ve gone to his clinics, and I rodeo with his daughters in the NPRA. I went to a Lari Dee Guy clinic earlier this year, and she helped me a lot with scoring cattle.”
The Williams family owns a farm and grows potatoes, wheat, and hay, while Michelle enjoys moving and branding their cattle. They also have goats for tying and a miniature donkey, along with their horses. Michelle qualified for the Junior NFR on her 11-year-old gelding, Salty, and also rides her 15-year-old gelding, Earl, in larger pens. She hopes to enter Earl in the All In Barrel Race in Las Vegas, and will compete on her 8-year-old gelding, Flash, in the breakaway roping.
A junior at North Powder Charter School, Michelle enjoys math and is looking forward to learning trigonometry this year. After school, she heads straight for the practice pen, where her parents or friends often rope with her or hold goats and run chutes. “I like going boating and hanging out with my friends and family,” says Michelle. “Next year I’m going to buy my ICA card, and I want to make it to Nationals (NHSFR) in a couple events this year, especially barrels. I just want to have good solid runs in Vegas and do the best I can.”

© Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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