Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
High school rodeo comes to Portales in a big way this weekend as the Portales Area High School Rodeo Association hosts the fifth in a series of eight rodeos for the New Mexico High School Rodeo Association.
Local youth involved are few in number with seven expected to compete this weekend, but the event itself should see 150-200 contestants from all over New Mexico.
According to Kendall Terry, who along with Christy Brakebill are parent organizers of the event, the students will compete for awards as well as points in the high school series which qualifies them to compete in regional and national competition.
Team members from Roosevelt County involved in the local association are: Dora seniors, Rana and Payton Terry; Elida senior, Tori Bilberry; Elida freshman, Trent Bilberry; Elida senior, Kodi Armitage; Portales senior, Joni Brakebill; and Portales junior, Jake Bonner.
“Last year Rana, Payton, Tori, Kodi and Trent all made Nationals,” said Kendall Terry. “Now they’re competing for points to go back to Nationals.”
The idea of an area high school rodeo team is not new to the Portales area but it has been an on-again-off-again proposition. According to Christy Brakebill this is the fifth year Portales has played host to the NMHSRA event.
“Portales always does such an excellent job,” said Christy Brakebill. “The association (membership) thinks we’re one of the best rodeos.”
Kendall Terry says the quality of the rodeo is a direct result of the support the team gets from local people and businesses.
“We greatly appreciate all the local businesses that have supported high school rodeo, as well as the lodgers tax board for their support.
Proceeds from the event go to a scholarship fund for the students and all the local senior team members will be eligible this spring.
Christy Brakebill’s daughter, Joni, who runs barrels, ropes and ties goats, keeps an active schedule going to rodeos year-round.
“I enjoy traveling every weekend and meeting new people,” said Joni Brakebill. “I have a rodeo family I have grown up with and it’s good to be with them every weekend,” she said referring to the friendships she’s made through rodeo.
She says from the first of March through the end of October there is at least one high school rodeo a week somewhere in the tri-state area (New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma) and she is at one nearly every weekend.
“There are rodeos all year long and unlike other sports you have to stay competitive all year,” said Joni Brakebill, whose dream is to compete in collegiate rodeo after high school.
Teammate Armitage says it’s all about testing herself.
“I want to be competitive and win,” said the Elida senior. “You place a lot of responsibility on yourself (in rodeo) and you have to rely only on yourself.”
Christy Brakebill adds, “It keeps the kids involved and busy throughout the year. People sometimes don’t understand the practice and all the things that go into it.”
The action kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds Arena with a special cutting event for boys and girls. The rodeos get under way at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the arena. Events include rough stock, breakaway calf roping, team roping, goat tying, barrels, poles and bull riding.
There will be church services at 8 a.m. on Sunday with Ty Bean of Cowboy Junction in Hobbs and a dance from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Jake Lopez Building at the fairgrounds. Cost for the rodeos is $20 per family for both days.