Jacob Factor/Journalism Intern
Seventh grade citizen wins state finals rodeo
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Before that day, she was in fourth place.
It was the last rodeo of the season, Kayleah Hurst’s last chance to make it to the National Junior High Finals Rodeo. She had to at least stay in fourth place to do that.
As she got ready to run, she could hear her trainer from Arizona in her head, ‘You can do it.’
“And my mom yelling from the stands,” she said.
She was nervous, but not as nervous as her mom, Laurie Hurst.
“I get nervous, but when I see (my daughter) walk out, I get even more nervous.”
Kayleah walks out onto the arena, and her nerves fade. She’s focused.
She hears the whistle and sprints off on her horse.
“Some people go slow; I like to go fast,” Kayleah said.
She kicks her right leg up over the horse as she nears the goat and slides off. She runs towards the goat, and when she gets there, she grabs its flank and flips it over, wrapping the rope around three of the goat’s legs.
She hopes she was fast enough. Kayleah has trained two hours every day for this moment, and her work paid off. She became a state champion in goat tying and qualified for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Huron, South Dakota, the world’s largest junior high rodeo.
In goat tying, players ride into the arena on a horse, dismount the horse while it’s still running, and tie down three legs of a goat that is tied-out on a rope in the middle of the arena.
Kayleah started doing rodeos when she was six-years-old doing goat-undecorating, a similar event in which the object is to get a ribbon hanging from the goat, then graduated to goat-tying.
Now, the rodeo isn’t just about riding in the event. When she gets older, Kayleah will be eligible for college scholarships.
She has also learned leadership abilities as a director. Kayleah acts as a mediator with her other teammates when there are issues. She works with other directors to try and solve problems before having to go to adults.
“She’s really come out of her shell because of the rodeo,” Laurie said.
Laurie did rodeos when she was in school, and she said it filled her with so many emotions when Kayleah became a state champion.