Payson Contingent Scores At College Rodeo

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They've moved on to college, but former Payson High School rodeoers Garret Riggins, Klayton Haught and Lara Baker are still bringing home the buckles.

The trio now competes for Central Arizona College, or at least they will, beginning Saturday when CAC travels to the Taylor Rodeo Grounds for a rodeo hosted by Northland Pioneer College.

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Garret Riggins displays the buckle he won for taking first place in bareback riding in his first college rodeo.

At the season opening rodeo last weekend in Douglas, an event hosted by Cochise College, Riggins and Haught finished one-two in bareback riding and Baker won the barrel racing event. Unfortunately the trio wasn't on the official CAC team.

"Every team picks six guys and four girls for the team," Riggins said. "More people than those 10 compete, but those are the people that count for the team points. The rest just count for their own individual points."

Riggins, Haught and Baker were not among the designated 10 because they hadn't competed at the college level before. CAC rodeo coach Varr Myers says they're on the team now.

"They did excellent," Myers said. "They will be on the team this weekend."

Riggins, who is majoring in diesel and heavy equipment technology at CAC, said the level of competition was noticeably higher than high school rodeo.

"The horses and stock are a lot tougher than at the high school level," he said.

CAC, which is located between Coolidge and Casa Grande, has had a rodeo team since 1970, and Myers has been the coach for the past 26 years.

"We're part of the athletic department and we do get some scholarship money that way," Myers said.

Garret, Haught and Baker are just the latest in a long line of Payson students who have rodeoed at CAC.

"We've had lots of kids from Payson over the years," Myers said. "A recent graduate was Trevor Brown, and Hooter Haught was here a couple of years ago. We're a small rural college, and it seems to be a good fit for kids coming out of Payson High School."

Baker's older brother, Tim, is also on the CAC team. He won the team roping event last weekend.

Besides Northland and Cochise, CAC competes against the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University.

During the past summer, Riggins competed on the professional circuit.

"It was the IPRA -- the International Pro Rodeo Association," he said. "It's mainly back East. I went to Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and I did all right. I won a little money."

Riggins says he's past the point of getting nervous before an event.

"I just get excited -- pumped up," he said.

Riggins and Myers both encourage Rim country rodeo fans to attend the event this weekend in Taylor.

"Slack starts at 8 a.m., and we'll have one full go and a short round that afternoon," Myers said.

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