Hundreds of teenaged cowboys and cowgirls, their families and friends descended on Payson this week for the finals of the 2011-2012 Arizona High School Rodeo Association.
Alas, the only local youngster in the contest is Chelsie Stodghill of Pine, competing in barrel racing, breakaway and team roping, where she pairs up with Aspyn Dent of Phoenix.
Last year, Stodghill earned fourth place among barrel racers; 14th in goat tying, which she is not taking part in during the finals; 21st among the state’s pole bending competitors; 24th as a header in team roping; and 31st in breakaway.
The top young rodeo competitors from around Arizona have occupied the Payson Event Center for their season-ending contests for most of the week.
Activities started Wednesday and continue through Saturday. Payson also hosted the organization’s opening event of the season back in September.
Today, Friday, June 8, there will be a performance at 3 p.m., which includes a grand entry and crowning and presenting awards to the 2012-2013 Arizona High School Rodeo Association queen and attendant. This will be followed by contests in bareback riding, steer wrestling, breakaway, saddle bronc riding, pole bending, tie-down roping, goat roping, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The final performance, with contests held in the same order, is at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 9.
Some 66 contenders have signed up for team roping, according to the day sheets on the AHSRA Web site. Breakaway drew 39; barrel racing 35; pole bending 24; goat tying 20; tie-down roping 18; 11 in steer wrestling; eight in bull riding; six in saddle bronc riding; and four in bareback riding. Each must compete in three rounds, which started Thursday and continue today and Saturday.
Many of the young people compete in more than one event, but all will have family and friends with them pumping more money into the Payson economy over the four days of activities.
AHSRA promotes high school rodeo on a statewide scale to bring statewide recognition to the sport of rodeo. The AHSRA strives to promote professional conduct and good sportsmanship.
Members and the animals compete against themselves and the clock, as much as they compete against each other.