RODEO: Aitkin’s Larson earns state championship in Saddle Bronc riding

Marshall Larson proved his worth on a horse at the Minnesota High School Rodeo Association State Finals.

Aitkin's Marshall Larson hangs on for a first-place finish in the Saddle Bronc competition June 11-13 at the Minnesota High School Rodeo Association State Finals in Hugo. Cody Noble Photography

Aitkin High School junior Marshall Larson captured the state championship in Saddle

Bronc and teamed up with Verndale’s Dalton Wells to take third in Team Roping at the

Minnesota High School Rodeo Association State Finals June 11-13 in Hugo.

Larson’s finish in both events earned him a spot on the Minnesota team at the 73rd

Annual National High School Finals Rodeo July 18-24 in Lincoln, Neb.. He was also named Minnesota’s Boys Rookie of the Year.


Focusing on each individual moment of each ride was the key to Larson’s Saddle Bronc


“I just took one horse at a time,” Larson said. “Just ride every one of the horses to its

ability. Just do everything I can to keep it out of the judge’s hands.”

Larson won the state championship in Saddle Bronc by amassing 299.50 points on the

year. He scored 189 points over three days at state en route to his championship belt buckle and saddle along with the national bid. The event requires riding one-handed with the reins for 8 seconds to receive a score and the feet of the rider must be on the point of the animal’s shoulder when its front feet hit the ground.

“My favorite event has got to be saddle bronc riding,” Larson said. “The thrill of it, the



“When everything’s clicking it’s just like a dream. It doesn’t feel real once you get off. It’s

like a dream. It may look like there’s a lot going on and there’s a lot of rocking, but it’s just like a rocking chair.”

In Team Roping, Larson finished with 137 points as Header while Wells scored 129

points as Heeler. In this event, the timer stops when the header and heeler face with tight ropes.

The third-place finish also sends the duo to the national tournament.

The lifelong friends practice weekly at the roping arena at Marshall’s parents, Keith and

Theresa Larson's house. The technical aspect of roping an animal may seem like the toughest part of the event, but Larson says another component is even more important.

“The hardest part is the mental game of team roping,” he said. “It’s not so much the


roping abilities, it’s everything coming together at the right time.

“A lot of good things have to happen. If one bad thing happens, it can be a lot different.

The outcome can change.”

Larson started competitively Team Roping when he was 9 and began Saddle Bronc at

15. While the hard work in his events has paid off, it took some persuasion to move into Saddle Bronc riding. Larson is appreciative of everyone who supported him along the way.

“I’d like to say thank you to all the people who helped me so far,” he said. “My family, all

my rodeo friends. And a big thank you to my Great Grandpa Joe Richards who was a

successful bronc rider from South Dakota for convincing my mom to let me get on bucking horses and Cole Christenson for mentoring me through the world of Saddle Bronc riding.”


More than 1,650 contestants from 44 states, five Canadian Provinces, Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand will compete in the world’s largest rodeo in Nebraska.

Larson plans to keep the same mindset that won him a state title when he competes at nationals.

“I’m just expecting to take one horse at a time and let whatever happens take its course,” he said. “Just ride it with an open mind.”

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