For around 20 young cowboys and cowgirls from Williams Lake and area, the weekend offered a chance to perform in front of their friends, parents and peers — much to their delight.
The Williams Lake High School Rodeo, the largest high school rodeo in the province, rode into the Stampede Grounds for the weekend with performances running both Saturday and Sunday.
In total, Leanne Manuel, president of the Williams Lake High School Rodeo Club, said 148 athletes grades six to 12 competed.
She added this year’s WLHSR was the 42nd annual.
“Our club this year has done a lot of fundraising — that’s how we put on this rodeo,” Manuel said. “We’ve done concession at the Indoor Rodeo, we do a silent auction and we’ve done other fundraising things throughout the year that help make money.
“We have a really great club and a lot of new kids this year.”
Athletes in the rodeo competed in saddle bronc, bareback, goat tying, bull riding, pole bending, tie down roping, calf roping, junior steer wrestling, breakaway roping, chute dogging, team roping and barrel racing.
Manuel said many of the local athletes practice on their own time; however, said it’s very common for them to get together to practice roping and riding on one of the many local ranches within the area.
“The kids do develop their own skills [as they progress],” she said. “Some of the kids get together and practice at friends’ places, a lot go out to Allison and Rob Everett’s place, or to White Ranches, where Doug White is. Some go out to Kelly and Daryl Braaten’s place, too. The kids go all over the place. They even go to clinics that are outside of the province.”
While final results weren’t available by press time, several local competitors gave their thoughts on their performances early Sunday — just prior to the conclusion of the rodeo.
In the tough rough stock events, successful rides were few and far between. Many of the cowboys are just making the leap to rough stock and for some it was close to their first experience sitting on the back of a bull, or riding bareback.
In bull riding, for example, only Levi Lawlor of Quesnel managed an eight-second ride.
Matt Armes, Grade 11, competed in calf roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc and team roping.
“I got bucked off both my horses and went over time in my calf roping and steer wrestling so it’s been an unlucky weekend so far. But, I’ve still got the rest of the day,” Armes said.
Grade 12 Brad Rymer, and brother Nathan Rymer, Grade 10, also found themselves on the wrong side of the eight-second mark in bull riding.
“Yesterday [Saturday] I got jerked down right out of the chute and got pretty much knocked out, and today it was the same,” Brad said. “But, I sat up better today.”
Nathan, too, competed in bull riding.
“Yesterday was my third bull ever and I did alright but I got off my rope so I fell off,” Nathan said. “I got on my fourth one today and he just kept laying down on me in the chute and it was hard to get on him.”
That said, Nathan added it was a great learning experience and “was awesome.”
Wyatt Miles, Grade 10, competed only in bareback riding. And, like his peers, also had a tough go on the weekend, he said.
Sydney Goward, also Grade 10, competed in goat tying and breakaway roping and said the rodeo is a fantastic event and is a great way to meet new people.
“The north and south are coming together for this rodeo so you get to meet a whole bunch of new kids you’ve never been around before,” Goward said. “You get to hang out with lots of friends and meet new people. It’s the biggest high school rodeo in the province.”
Manuel said the rodeo wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of many parents and volunteers.
“I’d like to thank all the parents and club members,” Manuel said. “They’ve all worked really hard and it’s been a great year and we’re looking forward to next year.”
For results see a future Tribune.