Riding, roping, racing and wrestling is the name of the game at any rodeo, but at the Arizona High School Rodeo Association state finals, another highlight is the annual prom.
With the AHSRA finals to be held this season for the first time ever in Payson, Event Center Coordinator Charlene Hunt is busy ensuring the annual celebration, as well as the competition, are both huge successes.
The finals, to be held June 10 to 13 at PEC, are expected to draw teenage cowboys and cowgirls from around the state.
The finals mark the culmination of the 2008-2009 season that began in September. Top finishers advance to the national finals later this summer.
The much-anticipated prom, sponsored by the Mogollon Sporting Association and the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Memorial Fund, will be held from 8 to 11 p.m., June 12 at the Mazatzal Hotel. The theme this year is “Under the Sea” and sponsors are providing both a DJ and snacks.
State events kick off from 6 to 11 p.m., June 11 with a queen contest and culminate with a banquet and awards presentation on Saturday evening. A special circus-sized tent will be set up at PEC for the queen contest and awards.
During the three days of rodeo, qualifiers will compete in most of the same events as do professional rodeo cowboys, including tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, barrel racing, team roping and bareback and saddle bronc riding.
There will also be a few events spectators won’t see during a pro rodeo including breakaway roping, goat tying, and pole bending and cutting.
Hunt said she expects about six Payson High School students to compete.
In the contingent is a cowboy, Trevor Haught, local fans are expecting big things from.
“You’ll someday see him in the national finals,” Hunt predicts.
Last summer, Haught — an Arizona state champion — rode his way to a seventh-place finish in the national high school bareback riding championships. In three go-arounds, the PHS junior tallied a cumulative score of 160 to nail down the impressive showing.
Admission to the upcoming rodeo is free of charge and spectators are welcome.
Competitions begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue to 8 p.m., June 12 and 13.