An Inside Look at Rodeo Life at the National Jr. High Finals

June 27, 2016

The NHSRA Jr. High Rodeo wrapped up June 25 after 1,000 competitors. These hardworking students were chosen as the “best of the best” in the National Jr. High Rodeo division, which gave them the opportunity to compete in the country’s second largest rodeo and win scholarship money.

The NHSRA Jr. High Rodeo in Lebanon, TN brought competitors from across the country, Canada and even a team from Australia.

The 11-person Australian team traveled the longest distance for the competition with a flight from down under that lasted more than 15 hours! Many of the Aussie competitors had never been to the U.S. before and the trip to the finals is the furthest anyone has ever traveled for a rodeo. “One big difference between the U.S. and Australia is that the food is better in America, especially Whataburger,” said competitor Jack Winsper.

Australian competitor, Emily Haber, said that the team has made lots of new friends and have created many new memories, including a chance to learn how to play volleyball with part of the Pennsylvania team.

Hailing from Glenwood, Iowa, Kord Ostrander competed in the light rifle competition. The middle school student has only been competing for one year and is one of the 29 students on Iowa’s team. Besides competing, Ostrander had lots of time to enjoy himself. “We had lots of fun with our friends roping, throwing water balloons and just having fun,” he said. He was joined by his parents, Jeremy and Tamera Ostrander, alongside his sisters who also compete in the high school state finals (Colby in trap and Bailey in rodeo). He has high hopes of going back to the Jr. High Finals in 2017, “Next year I’m gonna compete in three events. I’ll be practicing a lot to get there.”

But some competitors did not have to travel as far. Blaze Beere and Zane White, from Scotts Hill, Tennessee, traveled much further last year when the NHSRA Jr. High Finals were held in Des Moines, Iowa. White is having a successful run at the competition and placed 5th in the breakaway. The competitor said, “It feels good because I’ve practiced all year to get here.”

Caitlin Tisdale, an eighth-grade student from Alabama, has been pleasantly surprised after placing 12th in team roping. “It’s actually kind of overwhelming (to place so high). I wasn’t expecting it.”

Josey Hussey, one of Caitlin’s teammates has been participating in rodeo for only two years and landed herself at the Jr. High National Finals in 2015 and 2016. She credits her success to participating in at least 20 rodeos per year and practicing every day.

Rodeo royalty and Arizona Jr. High All-Around Cowgirl, Dakota Keenan from Maricopa, Arizona was on-site for the rodeo. She has held the title for three years, which she earned through earning points in state rodeos. Some of her royal perks include being a voting delegate and serving as the CINCH team captain for Arizona. She is also having success at the national level. The cowgirl had a run of 3.1 seconds in the breakaway, which placed her in 6th place.

Watch highlights from the National Jr. High Finals Rodeo in Lebanon, TN on the weekly series, “CINCH NHSRA Rodeo,” Wednesdays at 2 PM ET and Sundays at 12:30 PM ET starting July 31 and running through August 28. Get the full schedule at

An Inside Look at Rodeo Life at the National Jr. High Finals