Three members of the Payson High School Rodeo Team qualified for the national high school finals last weekend at the state high school rodeo finals in Globe.
Jason Amon finished reserve champion (second place) for saddle bronc, missing a first place finish by just seven points. Garrett Riggins finished reserve champion for bareback; and Klayton Haught finished fourth in bareback.
Amon will be a senior at Payson High School next year, while Riggins and Haught graduated last month. The trio will travel with other members of the Arizona High School Rodeo Team to Farmington, N.M., July 21 to 27, to compete in the 55th annual National High School Finals Rodeo.
"To go to the national finals is a big deal," Jason's father, Mike, said. "It's the largest rodeo in the world."
Two other members of the Payson team narrowly missed qualifying for the national rodeo. Lara Baker finished in fifth place in barrel racing, while Lanny Murdock, who finished sixth in breakaway, missed qualifying by just 13 points.
Only the top four finishers in each event qualify for the national rodeo.
"Those two gals came so close," Amon said. "I was really rooting for them. They missed it by minimal points."
With so many close events, the state finals proved very exciting, according to Amon.
"It was a real good rodeo," he said. "It was pretty anxious the whole time. Jason, for example, went into the weekend in second place. He took over first place on Saturday and then lost it on Sunday."
The national finals will feature more than 1,500 contestants from 39 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia. In addition to competing for more than $125,000 in prizes, contestants will also be vying for more than $150,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named the National High School Rodeo champion.
To earn this title, contestants must finish in the top 20 after two rounds of competition before advancing on to Sunday's final performance. This year, the Sunday championship performance will be televised nationally on the Outdoor Channel. Results will also be available on the National High School Rodeo Association's website --www.nhsra.org.
For ticket information and reservations call (505) 324-3000.
The National High School Rodeo Association, which began as a single event in Halletsville, Tex. in 1947, now features over 10,000 members and 1,250 sanctioned rodeos.