Carson High rodeo club hosts rodeo
No won-loss records. No leather balls being tossed around. And definitely no cheerleaders.
Rodeo is not your stereotypical high school sport.
The Carson High Rodeo Club Team, which spends most of its weekends on the road during the spring season from February through June, makes a rare “home” appearance this weekend at Fuji Park in the club’s annual two-day rodeo. About 200 athletes representing 25 schools are scheduled to compete, and it is set to start at 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
The rodeo will provide fans an opportunity to see Carson’s own Bryce Barnes in action. Barnes, a senior at Douglas High who competes for the Carson club, is the reigning all-around national champion in rodeo, having placed first in cutting and fourth in roping at nationals last July in Gillette, Wyo.
“I don’t know if there’s more pressure,” said Barnes when asked about the prospect of competing before the home crowd. “There’s always some pressure, but I’ve got to act like there’s none.”
Probably the least publicized of the Carson High club teams, the rodeo club has 15 members on the squad this season, 11 of whom are girls. There are five adult directors for the team, including John Stewart, Cleo Pulsipher, Martha Barnes, Joyce Gavin and Greg Brooks. Pulsipher is a former athletics director at Carson High.
High school rodeo includes more events than a traditional professional rodeo. Boys events this weekend will include bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback, steer wrestling, calf roping, and cutting, while girls events include pole bending, barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying and cutting. Team roping is a coed event.
“The stock is the same caliber as you would see at a pro rodeo,” said Stewart, who has been assisting the team ever since neighbor Pulsipher got him hooked on high school rodeo in 1984. “The contractor takes the stock to a high school rodeo one week, then a pro rodeo the next week.”
As a club sport, the Carson team receives no financial assistance from the Carson High athletics department, meaning that rodeo participants must pay for their own equipment, transportation and lodging – a substantial commitment considering a truck and trailer is a prerequisite for any event involving a horse (i.e. roping events). A percentage of the costs to the team are offset by advertising, sponsorships, and ticket sales at the annual rodeo.
“You don’t get on a school bus to rodeo,” said Stewart. “A high schooler can’t rodeo without family support. That is what intrigued me about high school rodeo – a kid has to go down the road with his parents and siblings, and that pulls a family together.”
Another interesting aspect of club sports is that Carson actually has members from other area high schools, including several Galena High students who live in the Washoe Valley and find it more convenient to train with the Carson club.
Despite its costs, Stewart said the sport of rodeo is in good shape throughout the nation. About 45 states and Canadian provinces, including Hawaii and Florida, currently contest high school rodeo and send participants to the national finals.
The 200 high school competitors at this weekend’s rodeo are vying for a berth in the Nevada state rodeo finals, set for June 14 in Fallon. The top four individuals in each event at Fallon advance to the nationals, which will be held in Springfield, Ill., this summer.
Some of the Carson club team members to keep an eye on this weekend include:
— Barnes, a senior, was first in cutting and calf roping last weekend at Yerington. He is scheduled to compete in calf roping and team roping this weekend at Fuji Park.
“The season is going pretty good,” Barnes said. “I’m looking to make the high school finals in calf roping; I’ve never qualified in calf roping before.”
— Patrick Neal, a sophomore at Carson High, won the overall bull riding title at Yerington last week by placing on both Saturday and Sunday.
— Jordan Allen, a Galena student, was second in team roping last week in Yerington. He will team with Douglas’ Ashlee Anker this weekend in the roping competition.
— Tonya Heinrich, a Galena junior, will compete in barrel racing and pole bending this weekend. She was sixth in goat tying at Yerington and fourth in the same event at Fernley recently.
Tickets to the rodeo are $3 for adults, $1.50 for seniors and children 6-12. Children under 6 are free.