State rodeo champs head to nationals in WyomingPublished 9:31pm Thursday, June 20, 2013
Three Dallas County natives are strapping on their chaps and shining their boots as they prepare to compete for a prestigious title at the National High School Finals Rodeo, held in Rock Springs, Wyo.
And although they’re already state champions in their divisions, Hunter Desch, Brittany Popwell and Josh Jeter said they’re looking to win it all in the competition, which will host more than 1,500 contestants.
“We’re basically going to compete for a national championship title — it’s not a small deal,” said Desch, who is a junior at Dallas County High School. “It’s like competing for the Super Bowl.”
Jeter and Desch will compete for a national title in the bull riding division while Popwell hopes to win it all in the shooting division.
First competing in the Alabama High School rodeo, each took home a title, which qualified them for the national competition.
Popwell’s mother, Lynn Popwell, said participating in rodeo events is no easy undertaking. Bruised arms, sore legs and dirty boots are all a part of the territory, she said.
“People in the South don’t really comprehend the whole rodeo thing. What these kids are doing, it’s on a grand scale,” Popwell said. “It’s a lot like the Little League World Series.”
Along with competing for a title, Desch, Popwell and Jeter are also in the running to win more than $200,000 in prizes and more than $350,000 in scholarship money.
“You’re competing all year to be the best and to compete with the best,” Desch said of making it to nationals. “And high school rodeo is a lot like one big family. You make so many friends while doing this, and they’re always there for you.”
And although it’s a dangerous sport, all three agreed that it’s the adrenaline rush that keeps them participating. While trying to stay on a bull, Desch said eight seconds can seem more like a lifetime.
“It’s not eight seconds, it’s more like eighty,” Desch said with a laugh. “Time just stands still when you’re up there.”
The competition, which will be nationally televised, begins July 11 and runs though July 22. To sponsor Desch, Popwell and Jeter call (334) 782-1499.