La Grande's Kennon rides to New Mexico for Nationals

June 20, 2012 12:00 am

 By Casey Kellas

The Observer

At just 12 years old, Kayla Kennon is already making a name for herself in the world of rodeo.

Kennon, a home-schooled sixth grader in La Grande, will compete at the eighth annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, N.M.,  starting Sunday.

Kennon will compete in barrel racing as part of Team Oregon and will be
traveling with other junior high cowboys and cowgirls from Oregon.

Kennon is currently the top-ranked barrel racer in the state at the junior high level.

She qualified for the NJHFR by earning points through a number of junior high rodeos this spring.

It should come as no
surprise that Kennon, who has been competing for five years and riding since she was 4 years old, is a natural when it comes to barrel racing.

Her older sister, Marlee, is a professional barrel racer in Arizona and has competed at events on the Harley Tucker Rodeo Series as well.

The younger Kennon is using her big sister’s horse, Call Me Coyote, or Cody for short.

Cody is a 16-year-old quarter horse.

“He’s retired from professional rodeo, but he’s still great for her level,” Kayla’s dad, Bob, said of Cody.

The National Junior High Finals is the world’s largest junior high rodeo.

It features more than 1,000 contestants from 47 states, Canadian provinces and Australia.

In addition to competing for more than $75,000 in prizes, NJHFR contestants will also be vying for more than $100,000 in college
scholarships and the chance to be named the NJHFR national champion.

To earn this title,
contestants must finish in the top 20 after two go-rounds before advancing to the final
championship performance.

To follow the action, visit the National High School Rodeo Association’s website ( for results.

Live broadcasts will be shown on the ihigh website at

The first performance of the NJHFR is Sunday at
7 p.m. and runs all week, with the final performance
Saturday at 7 p.m.