Newly graduated seniors from Grand Valley High School, Peyton Nye and Hayden Grice, might have a summer to enjoy. Once that’s over, however, they’ll dress for college athletics.
Just before the end of their high school career, Grice signed to wrestle for Western Colorado University in Gunnison, while Nye signed to rodeo for the University of Wyoming.
You could say that Nye was placed on this earth to rodeo.
“I’ve been horseback riding since I was able to stand up,” she said.
Nye was a participating member of the Colorado High School Rodeo Association for two years as well as 4-H for five years.
Rodeos being a big part of her life, Nye said she wanted to continue riding in some capacity after high school. This fall, she’ll be back in the saddle with one of the nation’s most prestigious college rodeo programs at the University of Wyoming.
She aims to compete in barrel racing and roping breakaways, she said.
“It’s a great honor to be able to continue my rodeo career for such a great school known for rodeo,” she said. “I want to live up to those standards.”
But it’s not necessarily about fame for Nye. Instead, it’s about doing better than his last trick with his horse, Whisky. Nye has bred Whiskey since she was a filly.
To end a rodeo two weeks ago, Nye said she and Whiskey managed to beat their best time at a previous rodeo.
“If I’m wrong, we’re wrong together,” she said. “I trained my horse from scratch, and when I got him, he knew absolutely nothing.”
Nye is the youngest child of Lant Kitson and Megan Evers, and the oldest of Josh and Kristi Nye. She has six siblings, three sisters and three brothers.
Nye plans to study agricultural business in Wyoming. Meanwhile, she said she was excited to take part in the rodeo as a Cowboy.
But that’s not the most important thing for her.
“I’m not really worried about being on top,” she said. “I’m really worried that (my horse Whisky) and I are doing our best.”
Grice’s greatest achievement came when he healed from a broken arm. The 285-pound Grand Valley wrestler has been essentially sidelined all season and hasn’t competed on the mat until regionals.
But that didn’t stop him from doing well enough to win a state tournament trophy in third place this season.
He only practiced five times before accomplishing all of this, he said.
“My mental state, I wasn’t really in it as I had a broken arm,” he said. “But when I came back to wrestling, it worked out pretty well in my mindset.”
Continuing to wrestle collegially for Western is a welcome reality for Grice, who liked what he saw on his campus tour.
“I really like the coach. They are really nice people,” he said. “The energy in the room is also really amazing.
“I’m really happy to pursue my future with them.”
Grice, the son of Charlie and Celeste Grice, said he intended to study subjects in biology or agriculture and the environment.
This summer, Grice said he plans to work at wrestling camps at Western as well as compete in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
As for the upcoming season at Western?
“I think I’m probably going to wear a red shirt in my freshman year,” he said. “But I’m really excited to walk into the room and start working again.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or [email protected].