More than 800 cowboys and cowgirls ran through the gates at the 20th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but only a handful filled their dreams of gold buckles and paychecks.
Two rookies on their first trip to the IFYR won titles, and three champions from 2011 repeated their feats. For many of the champions, their success came with hard work and tears as they realized their practice paid off.
The 20th annual IFYR paid out over $200,000 in money and prizes, and Bloomer Trailers awarded a one year lease for a trailer to the winning boys all-around and girls all-around champions.
Boys All-Around, steer wrestling, and saddle bronc riding champion – Garrett Smith, Rexburg, Idaho
|Idaho cowboy Garrett Smith is the 2012 IFYR Boys All-Around Champion (Photo by RodeoBum.com/IFYR)|
Idaho cowboy Garrett Smith made a clean sweep of the steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding events to win the titles and wrap up the all-around championship, too. The Rexburg, Idaho cowboy had a time of 15.8 seconds on three head to win the steer wrestling, and scored 147.5 points on two head to win the saddle bronc riding.
With his two titles, he also took the all-around championship. His secret for success? “Keep going. I never gave up this time. I kept my head up and didn’t let a bad run get in my way and ruin my week.” He flew into town to compete at his second IFYR, and after winning the Bloomer trailer, awarded to the boys all-around winner, wasn’t sure how to get the trailer home.
Garrett is a two time Idaho High School Rodeo All-Around champion, and last year, won the All-Around at the National High School Finals Rodeo. He and his mom will fly to Rock Springs, Wyo., this weekend, and his dad will meet them there with horses, so he can compete at Nationals.
The 17 year old cowboy plans on competing at the 2013 IFYR. He is the son of Lynn and Valorie Smith.
Girls All-Around and Goat tying champion – Mia Manzanares, Opelousas, Louisiana
It was Mia Manzanares’ first trip to the IFYR, but she made it count.
|Mia Manzanares, Opelousas, La., is the 2012 IFYR All-Around Champion (Photo by RodeoBum.com/IFYR)|
The 15 year old cowgirl from Opelousas, La. finished in second place in both the first and second go-rounds, and had a total time of 23.9 seconds to win the title.
She has been rodeoing since she was four years old. “My dad had me on a horse when I was a month old.” She plays softball, which keeps her in shape, and when practice ends at 5 pm, she heads home to practice her rodeo till 9 pm. After that, it’s time for homework.
As Girls All-Around winner, she gets to use a Bloomer Trailer for a year, and she was thrilled. “I love Bloomer trailers so much.” She is the daughter of Pancho and Kathryn Manzanares.
Bareback riding champion – Mark Kreder, Collinsville, Oklahoma
Rodeo and bareback riding is all in the family for Mark Kreder.
The 17 year old cowboy from Collinsville, Okla., won the 2012 International Finals Youth Rodeo Bareback Riding championship, and he’s not the first Kreder to win a gold buckle.
Mark’s dad, Mark, is the 1986 International Pro Rodeo Association Bareback Riding champion, his uncles, John Kreder, and Shawn Kreder, both qualified numerous times for the International Finals Rodeo, and this January, Mark was the youngest contestant ever to compete at the IFR.
Following in his family’s footsteps can be a big order. “It’s tough. I have a lot of expectations (of myself.)” But he was ready. “I told my dad, when I left the house on Sunday, it ain’t getting away from me this year.”
Mark will attend college this fall, and continue to compete in rodeo. His uncle, Freddie Kreder, worked as pickup man for this year’s IFYR. He is the son of Mark and Sharon Kreder.
Barrel racing champion – Kynder Starr, Catoosa, Oklahoma
The 2012 IFYR barrel racing champion is no stranger to the title.
Kynder Starr, Catoosa, Oklahoma, won the championship for the second year in a row. She had a time of 49.240 seconds on three runs.
The 19 year old cowgirl shed tears when she found out she had won. “I still cannot believe it,” she said. “I’m proud of my horse, and to do it two years in a row, it was tough.” She rode Dylan, her twelve year old horse, both years, and has had him since she was twelve. “I’ll never get rid of him.”
She graduated from Catoosa High School this spring and will attend Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas on a rodeo scholarship. After college, she’d like to be a barrel horse trainer, but her mom has influenced her. “My mom’s nailed it into my head: ‘You’re going to college.’ I’ve got to get an education to fall back on.” She is the daughter of Tracy Chissoe and Gerald Starr.
Breakaway Roping Champion – Samantha Little, Hackberry, Louisiana
The 2012 IFYR Breakaway Roping title was another repeat.
Samantha Little, Hackberry, Louisiana, had a time of 7.2 seconds on three runs to claim the title for the second year in a row.
She felt more pressure this year, than last year. “I came back in fifth (place), last year, and didn’t expect to win at all,” she said. This year, she entered the short go-round in first place, “so the pressure was on. I was really nervous, and haven’t eaten all day.”
She loves softball as much as she loves rodeo, and after her 2013 graduation from Hackberry High School, will either play college softball or compete in collegiate rodeo. And her first thing to do after winning the title? Find something to eat. “I’m starving right now.” She is the daughter of Tim and Angie Little.
Bull riding champion – Joseph McConnel, Farmington, New Mexico
The 2012 IFYR Bull Riding champion had some good help behind the chutes.
His older brother Ryan McConnel, a Pro Bull Riders competitor currently ranked 27th in the Built Ford Tour Series, met him in Shawnee to offer advice and give tips.
Joseph was in his first year at the IFYR, and rode all three bulls to win the title. After he came to Shawnee last year with friends, he was impressed. “I saw (the rodeo) last year), and it made me hungry” to compete here.
The Farmington, New Mexico cowboy also won the 2012 New Mexico High School Rodeo Association Bull Riding title, and will compete at the National High School Finals Rodeo next week. After that, he plans on going pro and competing in the PBR and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association.
He is the son of Jolee Arellano and Douglas McConnel.
Calf Roping Champion – Catfish Brown, Collinsville, Texas
Collinsville, Texas cowboy John “Catfish” Brown won the 2012 IFYR Calf Roping Championship.
The 18 year old cowboy turned in a time of 26.2 seconds on three head and attributed his success to “lots of practice, and focus.” The six day IFYR is a different set-up than most rodeos, so Catfish’s strategy was different. “You don’t get to go home and practice, so you just have to be mentally ready.”
He will attend Vernon (Texas) College this fall, competing on a rodeo scholarship and in addition to the calf roping, he’ll also compete in the steer wrestling and team roping. He is the son of Jerry and Cindy Brown.
Pole Bending Champion – Skylar Ragan, Pattonville, Texas
Skylar Ragan’s horse is a princess, and the mare knows it.
The 2012 International Finals Youth Rodeo Pole Bending champion rides a mare purchased for $145 from the sale barn. The Ragans got the horse when Skylar was ten, and Blaze was the first horse Skylar rode and trained.
Blaze has carried Skylar to two consecutive IFYR pole bending championships, and whatever Blaze wants, she gets. “She’s my baby,” Skylar said. “Today she had a 30 minute bath.”
Skylar’s combined time of 60. 177 on three runs won her this year’s title. Her secret to winning pole bending runs? “Practice, practice, practice, and taking care of your horse like she’s the best thing in the world, because she is, and she’s the reason I’m here.”
The Pattonville, Texas cowgirl is 17 years old and will be a senior at Pattonville High School. She is the daughter of Mike and LeeAnn Ragan.
Team roping champions: Trevor Kirchenschlager, Yuma, Colorado and Austin Crist, Rocky Ford, Colorado
Two Colorado cowboys took the team roping title at the 2012 IFYR.
Trevor Kirchenschlager, Yuma, and Austin Crist, Rocky Ford, paired up to win second place in the first and short go-rounds, and ninth place in the second round, to win the gold buckle.
Trevor is following in his brother’s footsteps. Older brother Tate won the IFYR team roping titles in 2009-2011. “My plan is to keep the family tradition alive,” he said. As a freshman, he has three more years to compete at the IFYR. “I just want to keep the Kirchenschlager name in there for seven years.”
Austin, who heads for Trevor, will be a junior this fall. The two have roped together for three years, and compete as partners in the Kansas High School Rodeo Association. They often spend a week at each other’s houses, giving them a chance to practice together.
Trevor is the son of Roger and Tammy Kirchenschlager. Austin’s parents are Justin and Kendra Crist.
The 20th annual edition of the IFYR featured 857 youth cowboys and cowgirls from 29 states and awarded $200,000 in cash to winners. The all around boy and girl winners each received one year’s use of a Bloomer trailer. Each timed event winner was awarded a Twister saddle, and roughstock winners received a custom made pair of chaps, a duffle bag, and gear. All winners were given a Gist buckle.
Next year’s International Finals Youth Rodeo takes place on July 7-12, 2013. For more information on the IFYR, visit http://www.IFYR.com
2012 International Finals Youth Rodeo Champions
Bareback riding – Mark Kreder, Collinsville, Oklahoma
Saddle bronc riding – Garrett Smith, Rexburg, Idaho
Bull riding – Joseph McConnel, Farmington, New Mexico
Breakaway roping – Samantha Little, Hackberry, Louisiana
Goat tying – Mia Manzanares, Opelousas, Louisiana
Pole bending – Skylar Ragan, Pattonville, Texas
Barrel racing – Kynder Starr, Catoosa, Oklahoma
Steer wrestling – Garrett Smith, Rexburg, Idaho
Calf roping – Catfish Brown, Collinsville, Texas
Team roping – Trevor Kirchenschlager, Yuma, Colorado and Austin Crist, Rocky Ford, Colorado
Girls All-Around – Mia Manzanares, Opelousas, Louisiana
Boys All-Around –Garrett Smith, Rexburg, Idaho