By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG - Is New Mexico really the Land of Enchantment?
Keariana Lauver, of Middleburg, and Rebecca Haines, of Mifflinburg, will find out as they make their national junior rodeo debuts there next week.
Keariana, 13, and Rebecca, 12, qualified Saturday in the Pennsylvania High School Rodeo Association finals in Beaver Springs and will leave at midnight — you read that right, the trip is about 2,000 miles — this Wednesday for the 2013 National Junior High Finals Rodeo, June 23-29 at Red Rock Park in Gallup, N.M.
This is a first for both girls, who have been standouts in assorted rodeos all season long. Keariana will compete in goat tying and barrel racing; Rebecca will take part in goat tying and breakaway roping.
“I’m excited to qualify my first year and making it out there with all these good competitors,” said Rebecca, who came in second in the state on breakaway and fifth in goat tying.
She’s been told to practice a lot.
“I’m trying to practice every day, though sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate,” she said.
Rebecca also is getting tips on how the rodeo works, what she can and can’t do, and where and when she can ride.
Keariana also is very excited, “but this is also nerve-racking,” she said. “I’m kind of nervous, but not really. I’ve competed in many big rodeos before, but this is national.”
Keariana has been told “those girls can be pretty, pretty fast” at nationals, and making sure she is good and ready is the best advice she’s received so far.
“I’ve been told it can be very disappointing if you don’t do as well as you think you should,” Keariana said.
That’s hard for the first time out at the national level because it’s all new and she may not know what to expect, she said.
“I’ve been told to set my standards high but not too high,” she said. “I tend to set mine very, very high.”
Good thing the girls and their families are heading West together.
“We’re pretty good friends, and we know we can count on each other,” Keariana said.
Rebecca is the daughter of Glenda and Glen Haines, and Keariana is the daughter of Charlene and Chad Lauver. Keariana’s brother Shadyn, plus the girls’ families, horses and other competitors all head to New Mexico beginning midnight Wednesday, Glenda Haines said.
It’s better for the horses to travel at night, she said, when it’s cooler. If it were a non-stop trek, it would take about 31 hours to get to New Mexico, she said.
The rodeo will be broadcast live online; check it out at the National High School Rodeo website: www.nhsra.com.