By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG - Several young Susquehanna Valley rodeo competitors learned an important lesson last week. In the South, cows and goats mean business.
Rebecca Haines, 12, of Mifflinburg, and Keariana Lauver, 13, of Middleburg, were two of the 12 members on Pennsylvania’s state team in the 2013 National Junior High Finals Rodeo, held June 23 through Saturday at Red Rock Park in Gallup, N.M. Another team member, Emma Watts, 13, of Muncy, placed third nationally in the Girls Breakaway Roping category.
Rebecca and Keariana both competed in the goat tying competition, placing 78th and 80th, respectively, out of 144 competitors.
While practicing with goats in Pennsylvania, Keariana said they wouldn’t move or kick after being roped. “These fought you until the end,” she said of the goats used in the national competition.
Both found something similar when they competed in the girls breakaway roping event, where they had to rope calves from horseback.
Keariana admits that event “didn’t go as planned.”
“The calves are very different from the calves we have in Pennsylvania. ... They’re smaller and faster,” she said.
Forty of the 150 contestants, including Rebecca, didn’t even place.
“A lot of people were having problems keeping up with the calves,” she said. “They came out fast and ran hard.”
Emma admitted that she was nervous during the breakaway roping competition, but thought back to tricks her dad taught her, such as to be aggressive and to get the rope closer to a calf’s back neck area than to its ears. Her average time for roping three calves was 15.75 seconds.
Emma also credited her team members with helping to boost each other’s morale. “We helped each other out with our confidence,” she said.
Keariana also competed in two racing events, pole bending, which had her weave through a series of six poles while on horseback, and barrel racing, where she rode her horse in a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels. “My first run went great,” she said of her pole-bending performance. “I couldn’t expect it to be any better.”
During her second run, her horse, Ginger, struck one of the poles, which added a five-second penalty to her time. Her average for both runs was 25.1 seconds, which placed her 76th out of 188 competitors. For barrel racing, her average time was 17 seconds, placing her 57th out of 188 competitors.
Also competing from the area on the Pennsylvania junior high school team was Dean Fedder, of Catawissa, in Boys Breakaway Roping and All-Around Rookie Cowboy. He advanced to the finals for bull riding.
Rebecca and Keariana both hope to use what they learned this year to advance to nationals next year.
“I thought I did pretty good for my first year. I came in a little bit nervous because of how the competition was, and I thought I controlled my nerves pretty well,” Keariana said.
Rebecca said, “I was hoping to do better, but there are a lot of good competitors out there.”
She hopes to make it to next year’s championship and go farther with what she now knows. “I’m going to try to practice a lot, so hopefully I can make it out and get to a higher standing.”