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Rodeo held to benefit RFL team

By By James Crawford
News Editor
With dirt flying and calves running hard, the Atmore Saddle Club played host to the Alabama Junior Rodeo Association's bull riding series on Saturday at the Ray Lambert Arena, just off Hwy 31 towards Canoe.
The competition, sponsored jointly by the Atmore Saddle Club and Myrna Monroe's Relay for Life team, tied a knot and held on despite the weather to bring in money for charity and lots of down home fun for kids aged kindergarten to eighth grade and the parents they brought along.
"The turnout was good despite the weather," said AJRA secretary Monica Buckhault. "If it had been prettier, we would have had a lot bigger crowd."
Saturday's junior rodeo event was one of the qualifiers for the state competition. Cowboys and cowgirls competed for prizes but more importantly for points in that never-ending ride towards the coveted state title.
"We have 161 members that rodeo from all over the state that came down to compete," said Buckhault.
The rodeo included participates from as young as kindergarten age and up to the eighth grade. The toddlers competed for saddles, belt buckles and other prizes while their older counterparts put their skills to the test on the track.
The cowgirl's grand entry was preceded by flag bearers Ellen Trotman, rodeo queen from Montgomery, who carried the American flag, and Atmore native Cheyanne Buckhault, who carried the Alabama flag.
After the rodeo, the AJRA treated the youngsters to a barn dance where they could unwind and enjoy the spoils of a hard day's work in the dirt. "It's just like a prom," said Buckhault. "We do it for them every year and they really seem to enjoy it a lot."
The events aren't the only place the cowboys and cowgirls have to work though. Each AJRA member has to have four passing grades in school in order to compete in the junior rodeo or they are disqualified. They each have to sell $250 worth of ads to attend the state finals, held in Montgomery, in June.
First, second, and third place winners were announced in the following competitions:
Boy's Breakaway Ropers: Jeremy Beauchamp, Matt Bryant, and Les Smith. Calf Roping: Beau Godwin, Alex Caudle, and Jonathan Varner. Chute Dogging: Jake Tubbs, Tyler Eaves, and Blake Payton. Jr. Bull Riding: Michael Campbell, Chasen Rolin, and Austin Vinsant.
Girl's Breakaway Roping: Kayla Kelley, Tristin Watson, and Brandi Harville. Goat Tying: Tristin Watson, Sara Dixon, and Callie Rowell. Barrel Racing: Abby Hall, Ashton Dyess, and Haley Hudmon. Pole Bending: Billie Anne Sexon, Haley Hudmon, and Kayla Foley.
The team roping winners were: Jerritt Varner and Jonathan Varner; Ryan Finch and Austin McDougald; and Ethan Kilcrease and Dustin Kilcrease.
The rodeo season starts in September and lasts until June of the following year. This year's competition will see more than a dozen rodeos in total with six more competitions to go before the state finals. The second round of the junior bull riding series competition will be held on April 5, again at the Ray Lambert Arena.