Silver State International High School Rodeo starts today

Enough talk. No more weaving stories of the past season.

It's time to put words into action as the 20th annual Silver State International Rodeo kicks off today with the largest number of participants in the event's history.

Marcia de Braga is amazed at the number of this year's field of contestants. Usually, the SSIR averaged 400, but this year at last tally, she said 502 cowboys and cowgirls from 18 states and three Canadian provinces are ready to compete in 10 events.

The SSIR begins today with two performances and runs through Saturday with a Top 15 chute out at 6 p.m.

The first performance begins at 9:30 a.m. and the evening performance begins at 7 after the grand entry. A teen dance at the Dry Gulch follows the final show.

Two performances will be held Wednesday through Friday with the volleyball tournament beginning Wednesday and cutting on Thursday and Friday.

The SSIR is a high school rodeo for those state competitors who placed fifth through tenth in their respective events. The top four state qualifiers advanced to nationals.

But that doesn't diminish the competition as several Montana cowgirls discovered.

Mandy Eichhorn from Belgrade, Mont., said she figures the competition will be tough as does Britney Dorrell, a fellow competitor from Belgrade.

"It will be tough," she said of the numerous competitors especially in her specialty, breakaway roping. A total of 100 girls will be competing for a first place saddle and consolation belt buckles.

In past years, Fallon rodeo performers said there is not much difference between the competition at nationals and the SSIR.

"Only a few points may separate fourth from fifth place," said de Braga.

And many competitors find themselves entered in both rodeos such as Fallon's Kassi Venturacci. She qualified for the national high school finals and was Nevada's all-around cowgirl; however, she finished several events in the middle of the pack at state and will show her skills before the home crowds.

British Columbia breakaway roper Megan Esau sees it the same way. She said the competition will be very tough.

"That's what I'm expecting it to be," said Esau after exercising her horse.

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