Colorado high school rodeo launches season in Eagle this weekend, Aug. 25-26
• Bareback riding
• Barrel racing
• Breakaway roping
• Bull riding
• Goat tying
• Pole bending
• Saddle brock
• Steer wrestling
• Team roping
• Tie down roping
Additionally, there will be a rifle shooting event at the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park.
EAGLE — It’s back-to-school time statewide, and student-athletes are busy preparing for the seasons ahead.
On Saturday, Aug. 25, and Sunday, Aug. 26, Eagle will host the opening event in a seldom-heralded high school/junior high sport when Colorado State High School/Junior High Rodeo Association competition comes to the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
Organizers of the local event expect around 124 high school competitors and 57 junior high competitors at the weekend’s rodeos. The action gets underway at noon on Saturday, Aug. 25, and at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 26. Admission to the event is free.
“It will be pretty big. You will be seeing lots of families coming into town with lots of trailers and lots of horses,” said Sherrie Schlegel, who serves as the organization’s state secretary and lives in Burns.
Long season, long distance
The high school/junior high rodeo season isn’t for the faint of heart. The season begins in the fall and continues until mid-summer, and the venues cover all corners of the state.
The Eagle rodeos planned this weekend mark the beginning of the 2018-19 season. There will be nine rodeos held this fall, with competition in Cortez, Grand Junction and Elbert. In the spring, competitors will travel to eight more rodeos and the state finals.
High school/junior high rodeo action doesn’t move at the pace of professional competition. There are lots of events, and there are lots of competitors, which means the rodeo action can extend for hours.
“The fun part, of course, is getting to watch your own kid or kids who are friends or family compete,” Schlegel said. She noted it is also fun for kids in the community to see their classmates compete in a sport that only makes one local appearance a year.
Way of life
It takes a level of commitment for kids to participate in any high school sport. Multiply that by a factor of about 100 and then throw in the transportation and care of a horse or two and you get some idea of what it takes to be a high school or junior high rodeo athlete.
But Schlegel said the kids who compete in the state program simply love to rodeo. What’s more, rodeo competition is likely a way of life for their families.
“Most of our kids will travel to every one of the rodeos. It’s just a wonderful family sport,” Schlegel said.
As they travel to the various events, competitors compile points toward the finals competition. The kids take their 10 best rodeo results and combine them with their state finals results. The top four finishers in each category then qualify for the national finals, held in July.
But this weekend, every competitor is starting at zero points because Eagle is where the season begins. It will be a great opportunity for kids to scope out the competition and to start building their point portfolios.
“Each kid who comes gets to compete, and everyone starts with a clean slate this weekend,” Schlegel said.