SHERIDAN — With the summer rodeo season in full swing, two Sheridan junior high students put their hands in the fire and will participate in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.
Cade Relaford and Tavy Leno both earned spots on Wyoming’s national qualifiers list via their performances throughout the state junior high season. The state sends the top four finishers in 16 categories, where applicable — as well as one alternate — to the national finals.
Relaford qualified as the state’s only saddle bronc steer rider, scoring 90 points in the event throughout the season. He is an eighth-grade student at Sheridan Junior High School.
Leno qualified in two events. She finished fourth in the goat-tying standings with 113 points, and she was second in ribbon roping with 242 points.
Nearly 1,000 competitors from 43 states, five Canadian provinces and Austrailia travel to the NJHFR, making it the world’s largest junior high rodeo. This year’s competition, the 13th year for the event, will take place in Lebanon, Tennessee.
The rodeo awards more than $80,000 in prizes, but cowboys and cowgirls have a chance to earn a chunk of more than $200,000 worth of college scholarships, as well.
To earn the title of NJHFR World Champion, contestants must finish in the top 20 after the first two rounds, earning a trip to the final day’s championship round. World champions will be crowned based on combined three-round scores and times.
The Saturday championship performances will be televised nationally as part of the Cinch High School Rodeo Tour telecast series on RFD-TV. Live streams of all performances will also be broadcast at NHSRATV.com.
Along with the competition and potential scholarship and prize-money earnings, contestants are given opportunities to mingle with fellow athletes from around the world in various sporting events, dances, family activities, church services and trade shows hosted throughout the week at the NJHFR.
The week of fun begins Sunday and runs through the championship round on June 24.
To follow along with the daily results, visit NHSRA.org.