A huge contingent of young cowboys and cowgirls is expected to turn out tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 15, to compete in the Arizona High School Rodeo Association and Arizona Junior High School Rodeo Association’s 2012-13 season opening competition.
At least that’s the opinion of Gila County Youth Development 4-H Extension Leader Lani Hall and Payson High School agriculture teacher Jadee Rohner.
“It’s the first rodeo of the season, so it will be a popular one,” Hall said.
Rohner agrees, “It’s always the biggest one of the year.”
Rohner anticipates about 400 will compete in the high school division and possibly 300 more in the junior high division.
Around the state and in Payson, the event is known as the Jim Barrett Memorial Rodeo in memory of a man who began his work with the Payson Jaycees Rodeo Committee in 1959 and went on to team with Bill Armstrong to make the Payson Rodeo one of the finest small-town events in the country.
In the memorial, competition in all the traditional rodeo events tips off at 8 a.m. tomorrow at the Payson Event Center and will continue until 6 p.m.
The rodeos continue those same hours Sunday, Sept. 15 at PEC.
Payson High and Rim Country Middle School will be well represented this weekend by some of the finest competitors in the state.
Chelsie Stodghill, Monty James and Bryce Stodghill are among the most accomplished of the PHS students who will compete in the high school rodeo and Byndee Hall, Lani’s daughter, is entered in the junior high rodeo.
Wyatt Alford was expected to enter the high school event, but might pass on the season opener due to a knee injury, said Rohner.
Stodghill, a PHS junior, opens the new season having ridden her way to barrel racing second-place honors at the National High School Rodeo Championships last summer in Rock Springs, Wyo.
There, she entered the final round of 20 qualifiers sitting ninth overall, but turned in a run of 17.191 that was the fastest time of the final round.
The ET propelled her to second place overall.
Stodghill qualified for the National Finals by finishing second at the Arizona State High School Rodeo Championships held June 7-9 at the Payson Event Center.
In addition to Payson hosting the season’s first school rodeo, the weekend will include a first meeting of the Arizona High School and Junior High School Shooting Team and a goat-roping event.
At 4 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, the shooting team will host a “Fun Shoot” for all those interested in competing.
Those entering are asked to bring a .22 long rifle and or shotgun and ear and eye protection.
For more information on the shoot, call Chuck Breshears at (602) 524-3333.
The Payson goat roping will be held at 6 p.m. today, Friday, and also tomorrow, Saturday, at PEC.
A trophy buckle will be awarded to the high-point header and high-point heeler over the course of the two evenings of competition.
Call (307) 749-8557 for more information.