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Tenn. High School Rodeo


By Nancy Brannon

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Teens from all over Tennessee, and a few neighboring states, had the Show Place Arena rocking and rolling at the Memphis Challenge Tennessee High School Rodeo, March 10-11, 2018. This was the second rodeo for the 2018 season, the first being February 17-18 in Scottsville, Alabama.

Check in was early on Saturday, 8:00 a.m., with the slack starting at 9:00 a.m. That action was completed in short order, leaving plenty of time for competitors to enjoy the warm spring day.

Bronc Riding
Action started again Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. with the bareback bronc riding. Stetson Bierman had a good long ride to start the night’s performance. After finishing his bucking spree, the horse still didn’t want to leave the arena. Enjoying the “limelight” I suppose. For Saturday, Dawson Moore had the best ride (score 52) in Bareback Bronc.

Next in the saddle bronc was Stephen Grueffen on a little paint horse that did some pretty good crow-hopping. But, eventually, the horse just ran out of steam and stood still, being unsuccessful at dumping his rider. It hadn’t been too hard for the cowboy to stay on the allotted time.

Barrel Racing
First up in barrel racing was Harley Staggs of Collinwood, TN on her blue roan horse (15.964). Next was Riley Edwards of Jasper, Alabama (20.542). Then Kassie Carpenter of Mason, TN barreled into the arena turning the barrels in 14.571 seconds and earning a second on Saturday. Kailey Schmidt of College Grove, TN was next on her paint horse (15.864). Then came Hailey Azbill of Wildersville, TN on her buckskin horse (15.421). Following were: Rachel Holt of Byhalia, MS (20.212); Megan Griffin of Union City, TN (17.403); and Jennifer Johannes of Knoxville, TN (16.101). Finishing up the barrel racing for the evening was Lindsay Yates of Charlotte, TN, with a time of 14.828 seconds, earning her fifth place.

Calf Roping
Next up were the calf ropers, with Brett Deere leading out of the chute, followed by Cole Walker of Cookeville, TN. Third to go, Jesse Keysaer of Culleoka, TN roped and tied the calf in record time (13.020) for first place. Then Kota Wilhite of Rienzi, MS showed how it’s done, finishing the job in good time for third place (16.520). Justin Sailors of Maryville, TN just missed roping his calf, as did Jake Petit of Buchanon, TN. Cannon Smith of Monroe, TN roped and tied his cream-colored calf in fast time – 15.770 seconds for second place. But Blayne Saine of Detroit, Al couldn’t surpass Smith, just missing his calf. But Ethan Tays of Crossville, TN tied up the evening’s calf roping with a fine time of 22.400 seconds for fifth place.

Pole Bending
Everything at a rodeo is fast paced, and the cowgirls were back in the arena for some fast pole bending runs. Haley Heaton of Cullman, AL had a good ride on her bay horse, who just happens to have some interesting paint marks on him (20.113) for third place. Next to go was Emma Kate Wilder of Millington, TN with a time of 20.950 for fifth place. Avery Lee of Nesbit, MS (#41) had a time of 21.540 for ninth place.

Winners of the pole bending on Saturday were: first, Cody Dowell of Olive Branch, MS (19.976); second, Kyla Matthews of Athens, TN (19.991); fourth, Taylor Dunlap of Dyer, TN (20.594)

Team Roping
Team roping was next on the agenda, with two cowboys or cowgirls working together to rope the calf at both ends. The cowboy/cowgirl team of Kailey Schmidt of College Grove, TN and Jake Petit of Buchanon, TN showed great style in “almost” getting the job done. But it was Damon Gardner of Sparta, TN and Blayne Saine of Detroit, AL who were one of the fastest teams, with a time of 10.000. Next out, Johnson Yarbro of Wildersville, TN and Miller Bartlett of Hornbeack, TN were even more efficient, getting the job done in 7.510 seconds. They were very pleased with themselves! But it was the Cowan brothers – Cooper and Cade of Lamar, MS – who stole the spotlight, roping the calf in a time of 6.400 seconds. Another cowgirl/cowboy team, Bou Reich of Wildersville, TN and Taylor Dunlap of Dyer, TN were right on track, but  finished with 32.100 and Taylor roping just one of the calf’s hind legs. The last cowgirl/cowboy team to rope were Mattie Pinkerton of Cottage Grove, TN and Brett Deere of Reagan, TN.

Breakaway Roping
Continuing the roping was the cowgirl’s breakaway roping, with Blaize Deere of Scotts Hill, TN first up, after finishing first at Scottsville Feb. 18th. Taylor Dunlap of Dyer, TN roped her calf in a time of 14.720. Harley Staggs of Collinwood, TN just missed her calf, as did Avery Lee of Nesbit, MS. Riding in on a white horse, roping a cream-colored calf in 3.010 seconds was Kailey Schmidt of Cottage Grove, TN, placing third on Saturday. Another fast roper was Jaide Ellick of Rodgersville, AL with a time of 3.230. Wearing a red-white-and-blue star spangled hat, Clayre McCallister of Dickson, TN tried her best, but just missed her calf. Then came Keilee Garton, also of Dickson, TN and finishing this event was Jennifer Johannes of Knoxville, TN. Saturday’s breakaway roping winner was Kyla Matthews of Athens, TN, scoring 2.120 and second was Emma Kate Wildr of Millington, TN with a time of 2.730.

Steer Wrestling
Steer Wrestling, also known as bulldogging, is not an easy thing to do. The hazer has to keep the calf in just the right place as the wrestler’s horse has to be equally in the right place. This turned out to be more difficult than usual, with more than one cowboy hitting the dirt as he totally missed his mark. There is a 30-second time allotment, so even if they missed the mark the first time out, some cowboys continued to chase the calf hoping for another opportunity – which didn’t pan out either. Jesse Keysaer of Culleoka, TN had good luck dogging his spotted calf, scoring 4.150 for first place.

Goat Tying
The next event – goat tying, is a not-so-favorite activity for the goats. Mattie Pinkerton of College Grove, TN led, tying her goat in 13.880 seconds. Next up was Owen Gibson of Gadsem, TN with a time of 11.180. (photos # 0360-0369). Avery Lee of Nesbit, MS had a time of 16.270. (photo # 0365) Emma Kate Wilder of Millington, TN had a time of 15.030.  (photos # 0370-0371) Abby Shultz of Orlinda, TN had a time of 10.720. (photos #0372-0376). Blaize Deere of Scotts Hill, TN had a time of 10.780. (photos #0378-0381). Then Kailey Schmidt of Cottage Grove, TN (photos #0382 ff) had the fastest time of the night – 8.950 for second place. Finishing out the goat tying was AnnaGrace Brown of Humboldt, TN with a time of 10.460.(photos #0387-0392). Saturday’s winner of goat tying was Jaide Ellick of Rogersville, AL with a score of 8.500.

Bull Riding
The grand finale of any rodeo performance is the bull riding. Peyton Doner was first out of the chute with a very short ride on a tough Brahma bull. (photos #0393-0395). Then Caleb Agee of Munford, TN drew a bull who had some good bucking and spinning moves. (photos # 0396-0406). Sage Isom of Hodges, AL drew one of those bulls who comes out of the chute and just spins and spins and spins. That gave the cowboy time to make that 8-second ride, scoring 58.0 for first place.

After the performance there was a silent auction to raise additional funds for the TNHSRA. The auction raised over $2500, to help pay for the top four riders to go to the National Finals Rodeo.

The teens were back for another performance on Sunday morning, after cowboy church. The next rodeo will be in Franklin, TN on April 14-15. Find more information about THNSRA and scores for both performances at

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