Taking one pole at a time Sept 9 at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds is Raylee McKinney, from Leduc County. She was part of the 130 high school rodeo athletes who took on the busy Battle River High School Rodeo Association rodeo. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka played host to a busy high school rodeo weekend

The Battle River High School Rodeo Association held the rodeo weekend at the Stampede grounds

Over 100 high school rodeo athletes converged on Ponoka recently for a busy rodeo weekend.

Held at the Ponoka Stampede grounds, the rodeo was hosted by the Battle River High School Rodeo Association (BRHSRA), which has a solid 18 members. Members are from Ponoka, Lacombe, Leduc, Thorsby, Red Deer and a few other areas close by.

BRHSRA president Dane Harrish said he enjoys seeing the many young competitors who come out to compete. It’s a busy year of rodeo with finals occurring in June 2019, again in Ponoka.

He enjoys seeing everyone improving as they move ahead in the world of rodeo.

There is a strong following in high school rodeo, something that hasn’t been seen in a few years.

“There are lots of kids in the juniors. In a few years, the high school rodeo will be a lot bigger than now,” said Harrish.

The kids in the junior program are Grade 6 to 9.

Adult president Danita Harrish said for the club members, not only do they get a chance to compete in a rodeo, but they also learn about volunteering, hosting a rodeo and running committee meetings.

“They learn how to pass motions and make votes. Then they understand what goes on behind these rodeos and what it takes to put one on,” said Mrs. Harrish.

She is also excited about the growth within the BRHSRA. There were some years where there were only six to eight kids involved.

“Our program offers scholarship opportunities,” explained Mrs. Harrish. “So the kids, for every year starting in Grade 9 that they’re in our club, they get ex amount of money towards a scholarship (if they apply).”

This helps greatly when entering college and university. It’s believed that the scholarship program has been going on since the association was formed.

She is proud of the development in the junior high school rodeo circuit. “They’re (athletes) starting younger. They have the opportunities to do this sort of stuff and they can qualify for nationals down south in the States as well.”

The opportunities are growing for teen rodeo athletes and Mrs. Harrish looks forward to what the future will bring.

Results of the average winners:

• Working Cow Horse: Justine Elliott

• Cutting: Payton Smith

• Barrel Racing: Macy Auclair

• Breakaway Roping: Kendal Pierson

• Pole Bending: Ashley Gunsch

• Steer Wrestling: Dane Harrish

• Goat Tying: Tori Brower

• Tie Down Roping: Tate Schmidt

• Team Roping: Chase Skocdopole and Stran Pollitt

• Bull Riding: Brandon Sahli

• High Point Girl: Mikenna Schauer

• High Point Boy: Tate Schmidt

 

Stettler’s Taiga Thorsteinsson looks for the fastest time during the poles event Sept. 9. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Fast and speedy is Ashley Gunsch, from Thorsby who makes a quick pass through a pole during the poles event Sept 9 at the Ponoka Stampede Grounds during the busy Battle River High School Rodeo Association rodeo held over the weekend. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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