Monty James enters the upcoming Arizona High School Finals Rodeo with a goal.
He wants to qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo, which is July 13-19 in Rock Springs, Wyo.
And he’s got a real shot.
The top four in each event qualify and the 16-year-old Payson resident enters the June 11-15 event at Payson Event Center at No. 5 in calf roping.
The top 10 in the standings will compete in Payson.
James, who’ll be a junior at Payson High School this fall, rides into Payson on a high note.
James was the calf roping champion and All-Around Cowboy in the AJRA Finals May 17-18 in Prescott.
It’s the second consecutive year he’s won the AJRA All-Around Cowboy honor.
He’s also the year-end champion in team roping, the reserve champion in ribbon roping and placed third in chute dogging.
He said, although he won the All-Around Cowboy award a year ago, he knew he had to work to win it again.
“I feel pretty excited about it,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it. It was a goal. I had to work just as hard as I did last year. It was a surprise winning it last year.”
He got to compete with his father, Clint, in the AJRA team roping events, which he said is great because his dad and his entire family have taught him a lot about rodeo.
“My dad’s competed in rodeos his whole life,” he said. “So has my mom, Teri. And my sister, Jessi, made it to the High School Nationals twice. She helps me rope when my parents aren’t around.”
He isn’t able to compete with his father in the Arizona High School Rodeo Association team roping events so he teams with his buddy, Bryce Stodghill, 16, in those rodeos. They’ll be joining forces in Payson. He and Colton Clem of Willcox finished in the top 10 in team roping in last year’s AHSRA Finals but not high enough to make the nationals.
“This is our first year together in team roping,” Monty James said. “We’re dong pretty good. We could do a lot better. We just haven’t been able to put it together at the rodeos.”
He’s hoping that changes in a couple of weeks.