SHERIDAN — This year has represented an athletic breakthrough for Parker Manor. One day during the winter, he woke up feeling more aggressive in his approach to competitive events, something that has helped his rodeo career. Manor’s first practice ride this spring went great, and he has only improved from that point.

Manor, who will be a senior at Arvada-Clearmont High School in the fall, placed second in saddle bronc riding last month at the state meet hosted by the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association and qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs.

Manor is one of a few local high-schoolers to keep an eye on, all of whom are competing on the national stage in Rock Springs next week.

Manor lives on a ranch near Recluse and started competing in saddle bronc in eighth grade upon his father’s encouragement. He took a liking to it right away and has steadily gotten better.

His dad Kent Manor competed professionally in saddle bronc —including a few runs at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo — and Manor aims to follow in his footsteps.

“I plan on (competing) until I can’t,” Manor said. “I want to go farther than Dad did.”

It can be tough to learn how to properly lift on the reigns, throw out one’s feet and keep one’s balance, so Manor said mindset is vital to a successful saddle bronc ride.

“Anybody has the ability to do that, but it’s a matter of letting yourself let go and make a good ride,” Manor said. “…If it was easy, everybody’d do it.”

That tenacious mindset has played out for Manor during the last few years. He broke his elbow in eighth grade and broke his wrist as a freshman while competing in rodeo. Another time, Manor was kicked in the head as a sophomore and required three stitches and seven staples but rode the next night.

Despite the multitude of injuries, he didn’t consider stopping.

“Even when I got hurt, I was just counting down the days to when I was cleared,” Manor said. “I’ve never thought about quitting.”

Like Manor, Teegan Leno, a rising senior at Sheridan High School, grew up around the sport. As a kid, he recalled traveling with his parents James and Mika Leno while they competed together in team roping and Mika Leno did breakaway roping.

Leno loved hearing his parents discuss rodeo and learning about the sport and its culture.

“(It) really just intrigues me more every time to hear the stories and all the experiences, to hope I can get an experience like that and many more,” Teegan Leno said.

Leno recalled a rodeo when he was 11 and won a team roping competition with his mother at the Wyoming Junior Rodeo Association. That made him realize he wanted to compete in rodeo for the foreseeable future.

“I just remember knowing, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” Teegan Leno said. “It was really special, too, to win it with my mom. I think that was my turning point.”

Leno took fourth in tie down calf roping at state this year, qualifying for nationals. He also competes in team roping.

Leno attended the Sheridan WYO Rodeo growing up and sat on the fence by the bucking chutes, picturing himself competing one day. He received that chance a few years ago took when he part in the Wild Pony Races, a special opportunity to compete in front of a hometown crowd.

“It was such a rush,” Teegan Leno said.

Leno began competing when he was about 6 years old, and his younger sister Tavy Leno started around age 5. Their younger brother Tate Leno is 11 and participates in rodeo as well.

Tavy Leno will be a sophomore in high school and competes in goat tying, barrel racing, team roping and breakaway roping. She will participate at nationals in Rock Springs in goat tying after winning the event this year at state, the same event her mother won as a high-schooler in Montana.

The family has an arena at their home, and the Lenos practice every day. Teegan Leno said discipline, commitment and attitude are keys to success, and Tavy Leno said consistency is paramount.

“It’s muscle memory, mainly,” Tavy Leno said.

The rodeo schedule keeps them busy, as the Leno siblings have competed every weekend this calendar year.

All the high-schoolers relish the atmosphere and camaraderie associated with rodeo.

Manor likes meeting new people at the different competitions and said they are “like my second family.”

Teegan Leno appreciated the knowledge and skills that accompanied being around older competitors.

“It gives you so much responsibility and kind of prepares you for the real-life world,” Teegan Leno said. “…I feel like it’s really helped me to mature quickly, and it always keeps me doing something.”

Tavy Leno enjoys the family atmosphere surrounding rodeo.

“You learn a ton about responsibility,” she said. “…It’s way cool.”

Despite the daily rigors and travel, Tavy Leno has always loved the sport and never considered stopping or slowing down, even after breaking her ankle a few years ago when her horse fell.

She plans to compete in college and cannot imagine her life without rodeo.

“I think it’d be boring,” Tavy Leno said. “[Rodeo] is so much fun.”

Likewise, Teegan Leno plans to compete in rodeo in college. He likely won’t ride professionally but will always have it as at least a hobby.

“I really don’t see a life without rodeo in it,” Teegan Leno said.

With the Sheridan WYO Rodeo about to begin, the three high-schoolers are examples of local competitors who may one day make their mark at the event.