Local cowgirl 14-year-old Tegan Poitras, who lives just east of Ponoka, has earned a spot on team Alberta and will compete at the 15th annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) in Huron, South Dakota from June 23 to 29.
Poitras qualified for the barrel racing event after finishing in the top four at provincials held in Nanton, from May 24 to 26.
Poitras, in Grade 8 at Mecca Glen School, says she’s excited to see the sights and to meet new people, as well as compete at a higher calibre of rodeo.
“It’ll be stronger competition down there,” she said in an interview. “I’m really excited.”
The event is the world’s largest junior high rodeo with 1,000 contestants from 44 states and five Canadian provinces, as well as from Australia and Mexico and over $80,000 in prizes.
Contestants also have the chance to earn themselves college scholarships with more than $200,000 up for grabs and will compete for the coveted title of National Junior High Finals Rodeo World Champion in their events.
To advance to the final round, the rodeo athletes must finish in the top 20 based on their combined time and scores in the first two rounds. World champions will then be decided based on their three-round combined times/scores.
For those that enter, there is also an additional $50,ooo optional jackpot, new this year.
Throughout the rodeo season, Poitras also competes in breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending and ribbon roping.
Rodeo runs in Poitras’s family. Poitras has been riding, roping and racing since she was three years old and is a fourth-generation rodeo contestant.
Her 17-year-old quarter horse “Arnie” also won the American Quarter Horse Association’s horse of the year award at provincials in Nanton from May 24 to 26.
Poitras says her goals at nationals are just to “have some clean runs and represent Alberta well,” adding she’d like to thank her family and her horses for carrying her this far.