Making it to the rodeo big-time
By KELTON BROOKS
By KELTON BROOKS
During summer breaks, most 16 year olds are doing things like taking a dip in a pool to cool off from the sweltering heat, traveling on a planned family vacation, or simply wishing the break was a few months longer.
But 16-year-old Jayme Flowers is headed for a grander stage.
Flowers will be a junior at Garden City High School this fall. But before that, she has qualified for a position on the Kansas state/provincial National High School rodeo team and will travel with fellow teammates to Rock Springs, Wyo. Sunday through Saturday to compete at the 66th annual National High School Finals Rodeo in the Barrel Racing competition.
But had you mentioned the nationally recognized competition to Flowers' in June, she'd have told you, "I was iffy on if I would make it. I made it by half a point."
From June 11 to 15, Flowers galloped in the Rodeo State Finals in Topeka, ranked ninth in the state standings. To qualify nationally, you had to be ranked in the top 4. Flowers' premier event is Barrel Racing — a rodeo event in which a horse and rider complete a clover-leaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time — but she also competed in Pole Bending and Breakaway Roping.
When the judged scribbled down their scores for the riders, one rider was given a score of 102.5 points. By the skin of her teeth, Flowers scored 103 points, bumping her up five spots to fourth overall in the state standings, qualifying her for the national competition in Barrel Racing.
"It's a lot of pressure on me to represent Garden City, but I'm hoping to do well," she said.
Featuring more than 1,500 contestants from 42 states, five Canadian Providences and Australia, NHSFR is the world's largest rodeo. NHSFR contestants will be competing for more than $200,000 in prizes, and more than $350,000 in college scholarships, as well as the chance to be named an NHSFR National Champion.
The Saturday championship performance will be televised nationally as a part of the Cinch High School Rodeo Tour telecast series on RFD-TV. Live broadcasts of each NHSFR performance will air online at NHSRATV.com. Performance times are 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day therafter.
"She has always been good at school, she's tough out there on the course and puts her heart into it," said Kevin Flowers, Jayme's father.
Kevin said Jayme has been training and participating in rodeo competitions since she was 5 or 6 years old. Kevin will travel to see his daughter perform in the competition, and added that by Jayme growing up in a home with three older sisters who were heavily involved in rodeo, he believed she would gain interest as well.
"Five girls means no peace in my house," he said as he laughed, "But we'll all cheer her on."
Jayme has been in Shawnee, Okla., training and preparing herself for the big moment, before departing for Rock Springs, Wyo. She understands the pressure, but welcomes it.
"Competition is fun. This was always something I've wanted to do since I was 5 and never stopped thinking about. My sisters did it, and even my mom."
Jayme didn't qualify nationally for Pole Bending and Breakaway Roping, but she was more than happy to qualify for Barrel Racing and represent Garden City, her family and Garden City High School.
"It's my favorite (event), really competitive, and a fast event," she said.
Jayme hopes to join a rodeo team in college, but is still undecided if it will be Garden City Community College.
To keep track of Jayme Flowers and other riders, visit NHSRA.org for daily results.