LOCAL COWBOYS, COWGIRLS SADDLE UP
By Pierre LaBossire
Observer Staff Writer
Eight members of the Eastern Oregon High School Rodeo team will be fitting into their boots and pulling their hats down snug on their heads next week at the Oregon State High School Rodeo Championships.
Several of the local cowboys and cowgirls are hopeful they will make it to the high school nationals rodeo in Farmington, N.M., or to the Silver State Rodeo in Fallon, Nev.
You hear some of the local athletes complain about the road trips to places such as Ontario or Boardman. These kids from Union and Baker counties have logged serious miles all spring, traveling to rodeos all over the state to hone their craft. The state championships are the culmination of all that hard work and dedication.
The state rodeo will be held in Klamath Falls from Wednesday through June 22. The top four in each event will move on to New Mexico later this summer. The fifth- to eighth-place competitors can move on to Fallon.
Travis Hampton of La Grande is ranked ninth in calf roping and along with his header partner, Jace Manjarres, is ranked 15th in the team roping as a heeler.
Hampton, a senior and one of the veterans on the team, isn't shy about his goals next week.
"We're going to win it," he proclaimed. "I've been roping pretty well in practices."
Hampton has claimed a first-place trophy at one rodeo this year, as well as third, fourth and fifth places.
Sophomore Justin Deal of North Powder is in steer wrestling, one of the tougher events. He is ranked No. 6 in the state.
Though he's taken a few horns in the midsection, he wouldn't give up rodeo for anything.
"There's a rush every time I get on a horse," he said.
Sally Brown of Baker City will be very busy next week. She is competing in a total of five events and has a good shot of going to nationals in at least one or two.
Brown will be competing in barrel racing, poles, breakaway, goat tying and team roping.
"I'm in a really good position for goat tying," she said.
Brown, another team veteran. is ranked No. 2 in the state in goat tying. She also is ranked No. 6 in breakaway.
Brown is a header in team roping. Her partner is heeler Dylan Aschoff of Maupin. Aschoff is also a calf roper.
Sophomore Amanda McLean of Halfway will compete in the barrels and poles. She is ranked ninth in the barrels and has a good shot at moving on in the poles, as she is ranked fourth.
McLean conceded that being a member of the EOHSR team means a lot of long hours spent on the highway.
"I just want to keep going and having fun," she said.
Freshman Savana Dillman of Baker City is ranked eighth in breakaway and 12th in the barrels. She said she will try to keep in mind that the state rodeo is just another rodeo, though she conceded, "there's a lot more pressure."
Sophomore Kelsey Gordon of Summerville, like Brown, is in for a heavy workload next week. She will be competing in barrels, poles and cow cutting. She's ranked sixth in the barrels, 10th in cutting and 15th in the poles.
Freshman Chelsey Haywood of Union will be competing in the barrels and the poles. She's ranked 18th and 15th respectively in those events. This is her first trip to state, and she plans to stick with rodeo.
"I've been doing it my whole life. I like the competition. I have fun," she said.