Bott has made it to the state finals in all three of his seasons spent in Montana’s high school circuit, and he made the trip to Gallup, N.M., for the junior high nationals in 2010 and 2011, but this will be his first trip to the high school nationals.
“Last year I missed nationals by three and a half points,” Bott said.
Bott came out slow in the first round but won the second round with a time of 9.53 seconds and placed third in the short round with a time of 11.37 seconds as he totaled 118 points, just two behind the winner.
Another slim margin stood between Bott and a 2014 state championship.
“My plan was to be the state champion and I missed it by two points,” he said.
But that near-miss didn’t stop him from having an opportunity to rope his ultimate goal.
“I’d love to be the national champion,” Bott said.
A first-time finalist, Bott said he expects the NHSFR to be “more intense because it’s a higher level of competition,” but he doesn’t expect the big stage to affect his performance.
“I’ve been competing for a long time so I’ve learned how to handle my nerves pretty good,” Bott said.
But Bott knows he’ll need more than a calm demeanor to come home a national champion.
Bott said “with so many contestants” it would take a lot, including a draw of a good calf, to be the best at nationals.
“My main goal this year is to make the short round,” Bott said.
A trip to calf roping’s final round would be a major accomplishment for a young rider who said he wants to compete in rodeo “as long as I can.”
“I’ve had rodeo coaches tell me that if I make the short round at nationals I’ll get a full ride, a rodeo scholarship,” Bott said.
So far Bott has had discussions with University of Wyoming and Frank Phillips College (Borgers, Texas), he said.
“I’ll get my college education and then ... I’d like to work for a couple years and save up money and try to make the NFR (National Finals Rodeo),” Bott said.
Before leaving for the high school finals Bott will get in reps at the Cody Nite Rodeo.
“I’ve been going there since I moved here,” he said.
Bott has been in rodeo since he was an 8-year-old competing at Utah’s junior rodeos and moved to Powell as a seventh grader in 2009. He said he owes thanks to his parents, Katie and Kelly Bott, his sister Kooper and “all of the local businesses that have helped sponsor me.”
Bott would be happy to thank you, too.
“I’ve had to have help because my dad’s in a wheelchair, so just my mom works,” Bott said. “I’m always looking for sponsors.”