Fallon High School Rodeo Club’s six qualifiers are already on the road to Gillette, Wyo., for the National High School Rodeo Finals beginning Sunday for a one-week run. While it’s a new road for all of them, for a few it’s the last before they part ways.
State title team ropers Blain Jensen and Jake Cerini are joined by Sam Goings, Cord and Caleb Hendrix, and Mackay Spyrow who began the trip to finals this week. Though this will be the fifth appearance (including junior high nationals) by the Hendrix brothers in a well-established career in the top-10 each year, for Goings and Jensen, their first shot at nationals is also one last rodeo together.
Goings, who returned and took second in tie-down roping this year at his fourth state event, has been one of the members who have known each other since junior rodeo in Fallon. After two state titles with the Greenwave varsity football and wrestling teams before his state rodeo appearance, the nationals this weekend signify Goings’ last high-school competition before fall and his last event with the club.
“I’m just trying to treat it like any other rodeo,” Goings said on his first national event, though, he has had experience with rodeos in Idaho and Oregon. “I’m just going to rope my two days.”
Goings’ first round of tie-down roping is Tuesday night, followed by his second-go Thursday morning that will determine if he makes the cut for the July 24 finals.
“I’ve been making good, consistent runs,” Goings said on his practice before beginning the drive to Wyoming, “so if I can just carry that over, I think it’ll work out.”
Though Goings isn’t among the recent grads planning to wrangle at the college level, he said he plans to keep with the sport as best as he can while attending Embry Riddle on a partial wrestling scholarship.
“It’s kind of exciting to wrap up high school, and I think this is a pretty good way to do it,” he said. “They’re a pretty big rodeo, and I’m heading there with a lot of my friends, so it’s definitely exciting.”
Though nationals means a goodbye to some he has known since kindergarten, excitement still defines Goings’ mood as he heads into the competition not just for himself but also for his teammates.
“They’re going to go do their own things, rodeo or whatever sport they’re into, and it’s going to be great,” he said on leaving Jensen and Cerini behind, along with a cast of younger Fallon Rodeo members who Goings said he is leaving on a good note. “I just kind of worked hard and wasn’t really around that long so I think I showed that any of them can make it to Nationals if they work hard.”
Jensen, who will be competing alongside Cerini Monday night and next Saturday night, reflected the same optimism as Goings in the face of his first national event.
“I’m pretty confident going in,” Jensen said. “I know that I can just go and do my job.”
Like Goings, Jensen has been with the club for four years and said he was certain the younger members they’re leaving behind can make the same strides they have achieved.
“I feel they can carry the motivation and the energy that the Fallon club has got,” he said in light of Fallon’s recent success at state. “We are one of the most dominant clubs out there in the state, and we compete very well at the state level. The people who are still in it now have the key to success; all they have to do is turn it to open up the door.”
With a promising partial rodeo scholarship waiting for him on the team at Eastern Oregon University this fall, Jensen is hoping his skills can help pay the bills while he majors in politics and economics. He said he wasn’t as keen on the sport before junior high, but now his newfound love of the competition runs deep.
“I have grown to love the sport and enjoy it,” Jensen said on his growth through rodeo. “It’s a very humbling sport so it has taught me many lessons, so many I can’t name them all.”
Though his partner Cerini is a junior with one more year remaining with the club, he said he’s also focusing on the competition and is looking forward to the finale of his time with the others.
“I think it’s going to be awesome,” Cerini said. “It’s a pretty good experience to have one more time all together. We’ll probably never get to do it again like this.”
As one of Fallon’s newest state champions heading into the competition, Cerini rounds out an eager lineup and said the weeks of practice were worth it leading up to this point.
“We put in the time and practice and tried the best we can,” Cerini said. “We’re going to roll up with confidence and show them what we’ve got.”