Waiting in the box.
That’s the moment of rodeo intensity for high school students Chelsie Stodghill and Monty James.
“I get a nervous tingling in my hands,” said Stodghill, “Until it starts.”
Once they go into the action, it’s just the two nationally ranked rodeo youth and their horses.
“It’s the adrenaline and intensity,” said James of what he feels while competing.
“When you win, it’s just you and your horse that did it,” said Stodghill.
James is a freshman at Payson High School and Stodghill is a junior. Both are ranked nationally in rodeo.
James said he would be ranked first, except for a horn.
“My rope fell over only one horn and slipped over the nose,” said James of the rope slip that cost him the top honor. He competes in the calf and team roping events.
Stodghill is ranked second in the nation for barrel racing and team roping.
Both will compete in this weekend’s High School Rodeo at the Payson Event Center.
“This is the first rodeo of the season,” said Stodghill. “We also have the last rodeo of the season here in June.”
She lives in Pine on 14 acres with 14 horses. Her parents Travis and Deedee compete in team roping. She says the family owns enough horses to swap them out when training so they do not burn out.
Her family moved to Payson from the Prescott area when she was 6 months old. She has gone through the Payson school system and will graduate next year.
Stodghill hopes to compete in college rodeo and become a teacher or a veterinarian.
James’ parents, Clint and Teri, also compete in the rodeo as team ropers. The family owns a dozen horses.
He also hopes to compete in college rodeo and become a veterinarian. James’ family moved to the Payson area from the Tucson area when he was 6 months old as well.
James attributes a lot of his success to his family. “I have good horses my Dad trained and a good horse my grandfather John Hall gave me. My grandpa Billy taught me about calf roping,” he said.
Stodghill also attributes much of her success to the support of her family.
“It’s a huge family thing,” she said of her family traveling together to rodeos.
Stodghill has traveled as far as Wyoming to compete in rodeos in Cheyenne, Cody and Casper.
James has gone as far away as East Texas to compete.
Yet both prefer to stay in Payson, “Because we don’t have to stay in a trailer,” said Stodghill.