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The Road to National High School Finals Rodeo 2020

Do you have what it takes to be a Champ?

Well, folks, we are about to kick off a new year and that means a new year full of goals and plenty of opportunities! For some, it may be getting a raise or purchasing a new car; but for you Junior and High school rodeo contestants, your eye is on the prize, the finals. 

For any of you National High School Rodeo members your main priority this year is to make it to Nationals, which will be held in Lincoln, Nebraska. A week-long rodeo, full of some of the toughest competition and a lot of fun activities for the kids! To be a champ at the high school nationals is a title many wish they could have. But in order to make it, the next several months will consist of late-night practices, long drives and a ton of dedication.

This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with Annabelle Hampton, she is an active member in both the Arizona Junior Rodeo Association and the Arizona High School Rodeo Association. Annabelle has achieved a lot of her goals some of which have been making it to Nationals several times and winning both horsemanship and the queen pageant at the 2018 NHSFR. With this being said, I asked her a series of questions relating to the amount of hard work and dedication she puts into being a competitor. Here were her responses along with each of my questions.

Roughly how much of your time do you dedicate when preparing for Nationals?

“ Getting ready for Nationals I dedicate just about all of my time to practicing and making sure we are ready before we go. I mainly focus on keeping my horses legged up and keeping them in good shape.”

What events are you hoping to compete in at Nationals? And based on your training do you believe you will place well?

“My goals for this year are to make nationals in goat tying, pole bending, and breakaway. Yes, I hope to place well,  due to my training and my improvement from this year I believe that I will place very well at Nationals.”

Do you have any tips to give to someone who may be wanting to make nationals in the future?

“ I would tell someone who is trying to make Nationals to just not give up and keep working hard because in the end it will pay off. As well as to remember that rodeo athletes have to be just as mentally and physically ready as any other athlete competing in sports… so really remember to take care of your body.”

As you can tell the National High School Rodeo Association has a big effect on their member’s rodeo careers. Although to some it may seem like just a sport, to these kids it is getting their foot in the door to become a College champion or even making it to the Finals in December. They are creating a name for themselves as well as many connections with people who can push them to become a better athlete. So do you think you have what it takes to be a champ?


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Sarah Serrano-Smith is a native Arizonan, who comes from a competitive rodeo family. She is planning to graduate with her degree in Agriculture Business and a minor in Journalism. In her free-time she enjoys competing at rodeos and jackpots.

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