Annual high school rodeo aims to help students earn scholarships, find careers

Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 10:01 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - The 8th annual South Carolina High School Rodeo Association championship wrapped up Saturday in Horry County.

Organizers said they expected more than 1,400 spectators to watch at least 150 cowboys and cowgirls compete.

In this event, students from North Carolina and South Carolina came to compete to qualify for a state championship.

The event featured bull and bronco riding as well as barrel racing, team roping, breakaway roping and steer wrestling.

“We are so proud of that. We love our kids,” said SCHSRA National Director Lori Peyton.

Peyton puts on these rodeos across the state to raise awareness about high school rodeos. She oversees athlete conduct, athlete grades and sportsmanship. Is all in an effort to make sure each student can pursue a career.

“We all want to see the kids succeed, so we will do whatever we can to make that happen,” said Peyton.

Emma Grace Durden, a high school student from Conway, competed at the rodeo.

She said it’s always been her dream.

“I rode horses since I was little, and I always wanted to be a barrel racer,” said Durden. “So I always started barrel racing since I was 10 years old. I got into this in 8th grade, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Durden is focused on making it to nationals this year. She said training is what’s going to get her there.

“Every day through the week we rode the horses. They are treated like athletes because they are athletes, and we make sure they are feeling their best so they can run their best,” she said.

The association also offers scholarships for athletes who want to compete at a college level and pursue professional careers in the field.

Durden’s next step is to compete and win the state championship, which will be held at Clemson University on Memorial Day Weekend.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.