high school rodeo

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 17, 2016

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Submitted: May 17, 2016




Did you know there is a High school rodeo team in Polson? High school rodeo has never received much publicity, but it is another sanctioned sport. Students can even letter in it.


Senior Nichole Lake has been rodeoing since she was eight years old. It was sort of a family tradition. Her older sisters were involved in rodeo, and she wanted to be like them. She competes in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway and goat tying. Her favorite event is goat tying. “It is so fast it just gets your adrenaline going,” says Nichole. “It is more about your athleticism than your horses.”

It has worked out well for her. In eighth grade, on her horse Ellie, she made it to nationals in New Mexico in goat tying.

She qualified for nationals again in breakaway her sophomore year. That year the event was in Wyoming. In breakaway, the roper ropes a calf. The rope is tied to the saddle horn and when the calf pulls on it, it pulls off--or “breaks.” The timer stops when the rope breaks.

Nichole’s short term goal is to compete in college rodeo on the Bozeman team after she graduates. Nichole believes that rodeo should be “put out there” in the high school, just as other sports are.

Willy Lytton is a freshman at Polson High school and has been rodeoing since he was four years old. Lytton is quite accomplished, given his young age. One impressive accomplishment was that his horse, Duke,  was named horse of the year by the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA)  in 2015.

Rodeo takes a lot of practice and money. In order to excel, a contestant needs to travel to many rodeos. Lytton said he has traveled to about 45 rodeos this year alone. These rodeos include high school rodeos and others sanctioned by the Northern Rodeo Association (NRA.) To compete in this, the competitor must qualify by placing or he can “home town” a rodeo within 150 miles. “It is something I can do with my family,” said Lytton.

Lytton does team roping, calf roping and is starting steer wrestling. His favorite event is calf roping. In this event the competitor ropes a calf and jumps off his horse and ties the calf’s legs together.

In team roping, there are two ropers. One of them ropes the steer’s head and the other ropes the heels. The timer stops when the steer is stretched out. There is a time penalty if they catch one leg and the neck. In steer wrestling the person riding runs alongside a steer and jumps on the steer and grabs the horns and flips the steer over.

Lytton’s goals are to attend the University of Montana and to continue rodeoing during college. His longer-range goal is to make it to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas.

Ryan Harrop, a sophomore has been competing since she was seven.  “I loved horses when I was a little girl,” she said. “That’s what got me started rodeoing.”

Rodeo takes a lot of commitment, she said. “Rodeo always gives you something to work for.” She practices three times a week and tries to ride as often as she can. “Rodeo gives you your own sense of accomplishment,” said Harrop. “Like every girl, my long-term goal is to make it to the NFR.” Ryan may be on her way to this, since she either wins or places at most of her competitions. Her greatest accomplishment so far was winning the ladies barrels in Arlee last year.

High school rodeo is a sport in which contestants need to be self-motivated. Contestants who don’t practice and put in the work, don’t succeed. “Rodeo is a team sport,” she said, “and it would be great if more people became more interested,” because if rodeo doesn't get out there more the sport might fade away without commitment from younger generations to keep it alive. ”It is a great sport,  and it brings people together,” Harrop said.

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