By Kevin Wilson
Editors note: This is the second in a four-part series on the Portales Area Rodeo team representatives in July’s National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington. The first story featured Lynde Orcutt.
Brittany Bennett spent most of her time at last year’s National High School Finals Rodeo as a queen candidate.
This year, she just gets to be a rodeoer.
“This year’s going to be a whole lot more relaxed,” said Bennett, a 2003 graduate of Dora High School. “That took up all of my time last year.”
This year, the Portales Area High School Rodeo team member will be able to focus her time on the cutting competition, not worry about her past as a rodeo queen or her future as a student at Eastern New Mexico University.
Bennett is one of four team representatives in the National High School Finals Rodeo, scheduled July 21-27 at McGee Park in Farmington. The rodeo includes competitors from 39 states, four Canadian provinces and Australia.
The Portales Area Rodeo team is not affiliated with any local high school, but is instead a collection of rodeoers from across the Portales area.
Bennett is making her second trip to the NHSFR. She also does pole bending and barrel racing — coach Bobby Grimes said that only a small mishap in the state finals kept her from qualifying in barrel racing as well — but Bennett’s only focus is cutting.
In cutting, competitors pick out a cow in a herd, and then try to “cut” the chosen cow away from the rest of the pack. Since the event depends so much on an animal’s behavior, Bennett said picking the cow might be the most important part of every run.
“It’s kind of difficult because if you cut a bad cow,” Bennett said, “your whole run is a mess.
“You look for the calm ones that have their ears low.”
No matter what event Bennett competes in, Grimes said she is always in it because of her work ethic.
“She goes for it,” Grimes said. “If her horse is working, she’ll win it — that’s the only if there is. (Horses) have their off days, just like people.”
Grimes agreed that Bennett will be better off without having to fulfill all of the duties she had as last year’s state rodeo queen.
“I think it will (help),” Grimes said. “I think it will give her a little more time and she’ll have a little more energy. She spent a lot of energy working at the queen stuff (in 2002). She ought to do better, and her horse should do better.”
Grimes isn’t sure if he’ll be able to replace Bennett, or his other two senior representatives in the NHSFR. Bennett, Kenna Armitage and Lynde Orcutt are all in their final year of eligibility, and all three will rodeo for ENMU next season.
“It’s a good feeling because there are a lot of the kids I rodeoed with in high school,” Bennett said. “I’m going to get to see them all a lot. It’s fun, because the team can go on.”