Many of the state’s most promising teen rodeo stars made their way to the Elbert County Fairgrounds for the Kiowa Junior High and High School Rodeo.
The two-day event, held April 6-7, attracted more than 130 contestants from across Colorado, each vying for points to advance their state ranking in both individual and team events.
“We don’t have kids in the rodeo today, but we’re here to support our neighbor’s son,” said Alex Conrad of Peyton. “And I think it’s a great opportunity to take a look and get to know the names we’ll be seeing in the future — some of these kids are just amazing.”
Made up of students in grades 6-12 from Elbert, Douglas, Lincoln, Weld and El Paso counties, the Elizabeth High School rodeo team was founded in 2010 and sought to bring together students from smaller schools or schools where the rodeo team may have been dissolved.
Like other school sports, team members must meet academic eligibility standards, and must have the ability to letter in their selected events such as barrel racing, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to be part of something different, particularly in schools that might be big on basketball or football,” explained Kathy Sweigart, EHS rodeo team sponsor.
Jeremiah Turco, Elizabeth High School Rodeo board president, whose son Tyler is a saddle bronc rider, said the program builds on everyday skills that many of the team members already have
“This is a modest sport,” he said. “There’s not hot-dogging or arrogance out there in the arena; but there is a lot of camaraderie and helping each other, something these kids do every day.”
The rodeo season runs from September through mid-June.
Contestants that rank in the top four at the end of the season qualify for the national finals.
The Kiowa Rodeo also serves as a fundraiser for the EHS team.
This year, the event generated more than $15,000 in funds through entry fees and sales.