TEMPLETON — Cowboys and cowgirls — the future of professional rodeo — vied for junior high state championship titles May 11-14, at the 2017 California Junior High Rodeo State Finals. The four day long event, which got underway in Red Bluff at the Tehama District Fairground, featured nine different CHSRA districts, one of which was CHSRA District 7 — which includes Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
District 7, nicknamed ‘Magnificent 7,’ cheered on 27 of its own student athletes who had been working hard all season long. Seven of those athletes who ran throughout the weekend were from the North County.
“Each district holds rodeos throughout the year starting in September and we go until the end of April, beginning of May,” Roxanne Usher said. “Throughout the year kids can accumulate points and at the state finals they take the top five in each event.”
The finals started with a shooting competition and was followed by a two-go round rodeo that wrapped up with the short round Sunday morning, Usher said.
Junior high school events, which are tailored to students in grades sixth through eighth, are divided into girls and boys categories. Girls events include barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping while boys events include chute dogging, breakaway roping, tie down roping and goat tying. Timed team events include ribbon roping and team roping and rough stock events include saddle bronc and bareback steer riding, both of which are precursors to professional rodeo rough stock events.
Local athletes included: Shaylee Baxley from Pleasant Valley School who competed in girls barrel racing; Cy Grantham from Pleasant Valley School who competed in boys breakaway roping, goat tying, chute dogging and team roping; Kadin Javadi from Templeton Middle School who competed in boys breakaway roping, goat tying, chute dogging and ribbon roping; Sammy Massey from Templeton Middle School who competed in girls barrel racing, breakaway roping, pole bending, ribbon roping and team roping; Cora Stewart from Templeton Middle School who competed in girls breakaway roping, goat tying, ribbon roping and team roping; Harrison Orradre from St. Rose Catholic School who competed in boys breakaway roping and chute dogging; and Kincade Varian from Almond Acres Charter School who competed in ribbon roping and team roping.
While each competitor surely gave it their all, of the approximately 45 competitors in each event, only a few qualified for the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo, Usher said.
“They take the top four in each event and that will be held in Lebanon, Tennessee from June 18-24,” Usher said.
Regardless, for many of these athletes, the opportunity to compete at the Junior High State Finals was one in a million.
A community full of tradition and rich history, the sport of rodeo - whether on a professional level or not - leaves competitors breathless and speechless, all from having the ride of their lives.
These athletes, with their hats pulled down tight, horses saddled up and nerves at an all time high, learn the importance of good sportsmanship and horsemanship, as well as the value of building long lasting friendships.
The CHSRA encourages everyone to participate in their events. Whether you’re just looking for a weekend equine hobby or trying to get that first foot in the rodeo world’s door, this association is a stepping stone in the right direction.
CHSRA membership information can be found online at www.cjra.org. Interested parties are however, also invited to attend a membership meeting tenatively scheduled for August, as well.
“Anybody is welcome to join,” Usher said.