Several local youth competed recently in the Texas Youth Rodeo Finals and Junior High School Rodeo Finals — and two will be headed to national competition.
Lyndie Dunn, daughter of Leslie and Lane Stapleton, made the “short go,” or first round, in pole bending, placing second, which earned her a spot in the national finals in Gillette, Wyo., on July 17-23.
“We knew she had the ability, and we hoped for the best,” Lane Stapleton said.
Lyndie, who recently completed ninth grade, has been competing for about three years.
“She’s been working with her horse on a regular basis, and we’re going to a competition tonight,” Stapleton said Tuesday. “We know we’ve got a shot at [nationals]. The competition is so steep in Texas. If you can get out of Texas, the national finals are actually easier.”
The whole family will spend about a week in Wyoming to attend various events.
Also slated to compete in the national finals is Sonora Schueneman, daughter of John and Latisha Schueneman, who qualified in goat tying with a third-place finish.
Sonora, poised to start her senior year in high school, said she’s been competing in rodeo events all her life.
“It’s kind of a family tradition,” Sonora said, adding that she particularly enjoys goat tying.
“I like the adrenaline rush,” she said. “It’s all dependent on you.”
To prepare for nationals, her plan is simple.
“I’m just working very hard,” Sonora said. “I want to thank everyone who helped get me here.”
One who helped get her there is her dad, John Schueneman, who spoke to The Meteor from his tractor on Monday afternoon.
“It was pretty alarming because she went into the finals in the 13th spot [before finishing in third place],” Schueneman said. “A lot of things had to go her way for her to get into nationals. Some of the girls did not perform up to their abilities and [Sonora] was way above. We put it in God’s hands. She did her part, and I’m so proud of her.”
The Schuenemans coach and work with other young competitors and practice with Sonora every morning and every evening.
“Little sister puts the pressure on her,” John Schueneman said. “And my wife is very talented. They have pretty good practice sessions.”
He said they recently spoke with their daughters about the importance of how a rodeo competitor carries herself in and out of the arena. While at a recent out-of-town rodeo competition, the Schuenemans’ home flooded with 18 inches of water. Others in the rodeo industry donated money collected from a raffle and friends began the clean-up process while the Schuenemans were still on the road.
Sonora’s younger sister Sierra finished 20th out of 100 in goat tying and was elected by her peers to serve as the junior high state student president.
“I’m really proud of her,” Sonora said.
Other competitors at the recent state competition included Aly Ghormley, daughter of Pam and Mike Ghormley, who made the short go in goat tying, and Tacy Webb, daughter of Dan and Lisa Webb, who made the short go in barrels, breakaway and goat tying.