AHSRA finals next week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2012

Maggie Holmes competes in an earlier rodeo contest. The state rodeo finals will take place next Thursday through Saturday at the arena. | Courtesy photo

The sounds of snorting bulls, thumping hooves, stomping feets, “yee-haws” from cowboys will come to life in Andalusia next week for the 2012 Alabama High School Rodeo Association Finals.

From Thursday until Saturday, high school athletes from across the state and some from Florida will gather at the Covington Center Arena to earn bragging rights among the state’s best and to earn a trip to the National High School Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo., next month.

Jerry Varner, president of the Alabama High School Rodeo Association, said each night there will be Cowboy Church at 6, followed by the performances, starting at around 7 p.m.

“It’s our state final,” Varner said. “We’ve got some pretty good local talent competing.”

The performances each night include bareback riding, calf roping, team roping, breakaway barrels racing, roping, bull riding, pole bending and more.

Sixty-three participants will vie for the state’s best, Varner said.

On a local level, Covington County has seven students competing in the finals. They are Lucas Taylor of Kinston; Clay Elmore of Opp; Kim Reed of Pleasant Home; Caleb Varner of Red Level; Mary Ella McClain of Andalusia; Jordan Whitman of Straughn; Gus Maraman of Andalusia; Maggie Holmes of Straughn; and Bailey O’Ferrell of McKenzie.

On Saturday morning, there will be an alumni rodeo held, starting at 8 a.m. Contestants from the first rodeo in 1979 have been invited back to perform for the rodeo.

When asked how to describe a rodeo, Varner said it’s all about bringing the old culture of how to herd cattle to the present.

“Rodeo is the oldest sport in the nation,” he said. “This also teaches the youngins to have respect for the animals and how to take care of the animals.”

The rodeo association will give out scholarships each night of the rodeo, totaling between between $6,000-7,000, Varner said.

On Friday night, the senior presentation will take place.

Admission for adults is $8 each, and kids 12 and under get in free.