By Eric Butler, Freedom Correspondent
CLOVIS — Figuring out the overall champ for the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association season can be quite a chore — even after all the competition is over. That was especially true for the boys in Saturday’s short-go of the 13-15 calf roping at Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
The five finalists all had a chance to jump up in the rankings with a good performance as only eight points separated the group of teenage cowboys. Rawley Stallard (81), Quay Howard (80), Lucas Screws (78), Lane Hedeman (76) and Logan Medlin (73) composed one of the tightest competitions as the HPJRA Finals came to a close.
As the week began, Stallard trailed Seaver Tate by a single point. But Tate’s chances of being the overall calf roping champ went by the wayside when he didn’t get one of the five fastest combined times during the first four days of competition.
As for Stallard, even though the Fort Sumner native won the short-go on Saturday with a quick mark of 9.37 seconds, he couldn’t be sure that he wrapped up one of the prize-saddles that go to all of the HPJRA season champions. That’s because Quay Howard of Canyon, Texas, had a better combined-time for the two previous runs during the competition.
Points are awarded throughout the week, and the complicated calculations required were too much to figure for someone sitting high in the saddle.
“I figure (the chance) is pretty good, but it all depends on what Quay did,” Stallard said. “I really don’t know.”
At Saturday night’s awards presentations, it was revealed that Stallard’s efforts were good enough. With 94 points for the season, he just edged Howard’s tally of 93.
“It was a good ride,” said Stallard, 15, of the run which put him over the top. “It was probably the fastest I’ve ever been.”
Stallard was the first of the five to go on Saturday morning. Two of the subsequent four entrants failed to lasso their calves which helped unmuddle the field.
“It was pretty tight,” said Howard, also 15, adding that Stallard’s time put pressure on the rest of the entrants. “All of these guys roped real good. It just depends on how you react to it, you know. You’ve got to make your run still.”
The final short-go round included 36 separate competitions: 15 different events divided among boys and girls and a variety of age groups.
Unlike Stallard, most of the young cowboys and cowgirls had a pretty good idea of whether they had earned the coveted saddle trophy as soon as their event was over.
In the 9-12 girls pole bending, Lexi Mason of Hobbs swept by Kellie Collier by posting the best time on Saturday. Because Collier failed to qualify for the final short-go, Mason’s 15 points earned during the week was more than enough.
Mason, who had won seven saddles over the previous years, was still cautious nevertheless.
“I’m not for sure yet,” the 10-year-old Mason said just after her ride of 22.117 seconds.
Collier, however, wasn’t overly concerned if she was relegated to winning a buckle for second-place. The Hereford competitor had the top time Saturday in the goat tying for her age group, although it wasn’t good enough to catch overall leader Teryn Tate.
“I have a ton of buckles,” the 11-year-old said. “I just like having fun. I just had to do my thing — it didn’t matter if I was last or first.”