Schlegel honored in basketball, football and rodeo
Jerad Schlegel has had quite a year and has the hardware to prove it.The Burns-area teen, who graduated last month from Eagle Valley High School, was named to the Denver Post’s all-state football team, and earned all-league honors in football and basketball. The biggest part of a big year, though, came the weekend of June 28 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.There, Schlegel earned top honors in the all-around cowboy competition at the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association finals. That title goes to the top competitor in bareback and saddle bronc riding, as well as calf roping and team roping. Among the good finishes that earned him the all-around title was an overall win in bareback bronc riding, his specialty.While Schlegel is done with high school team sports, though, his rodeo career, which started when he was just 8 years old, is now ready to take off.”I’ve just always liked it,” Schlegel said. “I’ve always been around it and I always figured rodeo’s what I want to do.”
Having spent most of his life galavanting around the West with his parents, Randy and Sherri, to Little Britches events, travel is second nature to Schlegel. But even he looked a little road-weary after the first week of July.That half-week on the road took Schlegel to rodeos in Snowmass, Avon, Paonia, Craig, Steamboat Springs, Meeker, and, finally, Colbran. After a few days off, Schlegel is set to spend the rest of this month on the road.There are events coming up in Cushing and Shawnee, Okla., the latter being the home of the International Finals of the Youth Rodeo Association. “That one’s huge; there’s a lot of prize money at that one,” Schlegel said of the Shawnee event. If he makes it to the “short round” – the finals – at Shawnee, another quick trip awaits. The finals at Shawnee are set for a Saturday. The next day, the national high school rodeo championships begin at Gillette, Wyo. While Schlegel usually burns up the roads during the summer, he’ll fly from Oklahoma to Wyoming for that event.After the rodeo in Gillette is more road work: the National Little Britches finals in Colorado Springs. He’ll be back in the area in time for the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, then head off to college in Vernon, Texas.There, Schlegel will compete on the college rodeo circuit, training during the week, while taking courses in agriculture business management. Schlegel’s taking classes for the future, though. For now, and for as far as he can see into the future, rodeo is his first love.
While he’s an accomplished all-around athlete, Schlegel comes from rodeo stock. His parents competed, and, as soon as their kids showed an interest in Little Britches, the Schlegels joined that multi-family caravan, putting thousands of miles a summer on the family truck.Now, Schlegel is traveling with a couple of friends, Branson Burback of Bailey and Tyler Scales of Whitewater, a small town near Grand Junction. The three split the costs of gas and rooms, making travel more cost-effective. And travel can pay for itself, if skill and breaks arrive at the same place at the same time.”I made $1,000 last week,” Schlegel said. “That’s not bad for eight seconds of work.”While rodeo is now Schlegel’s top athletic endeavor, he’s going to miss his other contact sport: football.”Jerad was a real asset to our team,” Eagle Valley football coach John Ramunno said. “He’s just a great competitor.”In fact, Ramunno said, Schlegel was ready to drop football during his sophomore year. After talking with the coaching staff, though, he came back for the second half of the year.He didn’t get much playing time as a sophomore, but was a standout on defense as a junior, then proceeded to burn up fields across the Western Slope as a senior running back. Running out of Ramunno’s single-wing run-based offense, Schlegel gained nearly 1,300 yards last season, the most ever by a back in that attack.”I’m glad I came back,” Schlegel said. “You only get one chance to play high school football. I’m going to miss it.”Rodeo might get a youngster used to hard contact, but his football coach always worried.”When I’d go off to a rodeo, coach would tell me, ‘Don’t get yourself hurt at that rodeo,'” Schlegel said. “Then, before football games, my mom would say, ‘Don’t get hurt playing football; you’ve got a rodeo to go to.'”So far, he seems to be doing just fine.
Riding a bareback bronc involves more than just hanging on. Here’s a look at the basics of the sport, culled from the Internet: Bareback riders have only a leather pad with a special handle to hold with one hand. A rider is disqualified if he touches the horse or himself with his free hand. He must stay on the horse for eight seconds to make a qualified ride. The rider is judged on his style and spurring action, as he attempts to synchronize his actions with the bucking of the horse. Bareback and other riding events have scores if the cowboy completes a qualified eight second ride. Two judges each score the cowboy and animal on how well they ride or buck, with a perfect score adding up to 100 (25 from each judge for the cowboy and 25 from each judge for the animal). The highest score wins.
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