Upper Hunter juniors book a ticket to America at Australian High School Rodeo Association national finals

SOME of Australia’s best up-and-coming rodeo stars will now be embarking on the trip of a lifetime.

Following a weekend of action in Murrurundi, a handful of local juniors have earned themselves a spot on an Australian team to compete in America in winter.

After three rounds of hot competition, the Australian High School Rodeo Association (AHSRA) national finals came to a conclusion on Sunday.

Around 32 competitors from as far as North Queensland and Western Australia converged on the Rosedale Complex to compete in events such as bull riding, barrel racing, breakaway roping, pole bending, ribbon roping, chute dogging and a bareback steer ride.

Merriwa’s 18-year-old Polly Gardner will be one of a lucky contingent jetting off to America, after taking home awards for barrel racing champion, breakaway roping champion and winning the rookie all round champion. 

“It was great to get a win here as a first time competitor and at the first event held at Murrurundi,” Gardner said.

Another AHSRA first time competitor, Blandford’s Tyler Palmer was crowned rodeo queen on Sunday.

The queen competition is judged on presentation, horsemanship and public speaking ability.

Palmer also took home runner-up pole bending champion and runner-up barrel racing champion.

The Year 11 Scone High School student said it was her first time as a rodeo queen hopeful and she is over the moon to be given the opportunity to represent Australia. 

“Competing in America opens up so many opportunities,” Palmer said.

“Some people that have made it also apply for scholarships to go to college in America.

“You get to go and soak up the atmosphere there and see what their rodeos are all about.”

You get to go and soak up the atmosphere there and see what their rodeos are all about.

Tyler Palmer - Blandford

The students are now faced with the task of securing sponsorship for the trip.

 “I’m also looking forward to using the title to raise awareness and possibly funds for local mental health charities,” Palmer added.

 AHSRA 2018 Rodeo Queen Tyler Palmer

AHSRA 2018 Rodeo Queen Tyler Palmer

Another local competitor, 15-year-old Chris Wilson of Scone came away second in the bull riding.

This also qualifies him as a top high school finalist to compete at Rock Springs in Wyoming in July.

Cassilis’ Taine Nash, Coolah’s Linden Raen and Muswellbrook’s Kade Attenborough also join the group of finalists. 

Scone’s Ashley Randle will also travel with the competitors after being selected to represent Australia in the shotgun shooting tournament for the second year.

The group agreed that the association provides juniors with a great opportunity to make contacts, build friendships and experience a rodeo culture outside of Australia’s.

“I’d like to thank Lana and her committee and the sponsors that get behind her and put on these events for us to give us opportunities to go to America,” Merriwa’s Polly Gardner added.

AHSRA national director Lana Wicks, of Quirindi, thanked all those involved in another successful weekend while Scone cowboy Heath Nichols, a former AHSRA member was on hand to help and present awards to finalists.