Rodeo events take reins at Lamar-Dixon arenas

Mary-Glenn Smith
Header Kennedy Darbonne and heeler Torey Little of Hackberry High School compete in the team roping event Friday at the Louisiana Junior High Division Rodeo Finals at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

Young cowboys and cowgirls from all over the state gathered at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center over the weekend to compete in the Louisiana Junior High Division Rodeo Finals.

Formerly known as the Louisiana Wrangler Division Rodeo, the Louisiana Junior High Division Rodeo is sanctioned by the National High School Rodeo Association and includes contestants from 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

After three days of competition, the top four performers in each of the event at the state finals earned the right to advance to the NHSRA’s National Junior High Finals (NJHFR) Rodeo  in Gallup, New Mexico, June 27-July 3.

At the NJHFR more than 900 contestants from 47 state and province associations compete for national titles, awards and scholarships.

Events for junior high division contestants include barrel racing, boys breakaway roping, tie-down calf roping, girls breakaway roping, chute dogging, ribbon roping, team roping, girls goat tying, boys goat tying, pole bending, and bull riding.

To qualify for the state finals, contestants must have placed in the top 10 in at least one of the seven qualifying rodeos during the rodeo season that starts in October and ends in May.

“Its a little easier to get to the state finals in the junior high division than in the high school, because they are learning,” said Louisiana High Rodeo Association (LHSRA) State Secretary Stephanie Rodrigue, “The whole purpose of this division is to expose them to the event and the rules and make them more competitive when they get up to high school.”

In the high school division contestants have the opportunity to compete in 23 qualifying rodeos throughout the year.

The top 36 contestants, based cumulative points at qualifying events will advance to the LHSRA finals.

The LHSRA finals will be held June 13-19 at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and will feature cowboys and cowgirls from grades 9-12.

Haylie Heath of St. Amant Middle School weaves between poles in  the pole bending competition Friday.