Seth Barkley will be among the about 1,500 young cowboys and cowgirls taking a part in the 57th Annual National High School Rodeo Association Championships July 18 to 24 in Gillette, Wyo.
The 2005 Payson High School graduate qualified for the grand-daddy of prep rodeo competition by winning the Arizona state saddle bronc championship June 10-12 at San Carlos near Globe.
"He won every (high school) rodeo this year except one," said his mother, Sherrie "Cricket" Barkley. "We are very proud of him."
Barkley won a custom-made saddle and buckle.
In addition to nailing down an invitation to the NHSRA Championships, Barkley received a rodeo scholarship, beginning next year, to Cochise College, his mother said.
In the national finals, Barkley will try to become only the third Arizona cowboy to win a NHSRA saddle bronc championship.
The other Arizona winners were Monte Lira in 1974 and '75, and Jim Bob Custer in 1987.
The NHSRA event is the largest rodeo in the world, drawing qualifiers from 40 states, five Canadian providences and Australia. In Gillette, the young cowboys and cowgirls compete for more than $125,000 in prizes, college scholarships and the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of prep rodeo success -- being named the high school national champion.
The championships will be nationally broadcast on the Outdoor Life cable network.
On to Gillette
Because Payson High School does not field a school-sponsored rodeo team, for Barkley to represent the Rim country in the national finals, he'll need to pay all of his traveling expenses, housing and entry fees. Those could be in excess of $2,000 for the seven-day rodeo.
He is ear-marking the money he's earning from a summer construction job for the trip.
"He'll use that for the trip," his mom said. "But the family needs more (financial) help."
Donations to help the young cowboy travel to Gillette can be made at Bank One where a special benefit account has been set up in Barkley's name.
For more information or to help Barkley, call (928) 479-2106.