Middle Park raised cowboys are heading to Des Moines, Iowa next week to compete in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) from June 20-26.
The young men competed throughout the year to earn the top spot to represent Colorado in their events.
Foster Krempin, a 15 year old, qualified in two of his events, chute dogging and tie down roping. Thirteen-year-old Summit County resident, Rudy Mendiola qualified in team roping. He is a heeler. Stran Lechman the youngest of the group is only 12 years old. The Kremmling native qualified in break away roping.
Lechman admits it is not easy to earn the coveted spots in the state that will send you to Nationals. He and his father traveled many miles to rodeos across Colorado to qualify for the State Finals in Craig, Colorado over Memorial Day weekend. Lechman explained they accumulated points throughout the rodeo season and would get 10 points for a win, 9 points for second and 8 points for third place. He explains he always gave it his best, and his goal was to catch and be as consistent as he could be throughout the season to earn those points.
A common theme for these athletes is that rodeo is their sport of choice, how they play, and how they work. Mendiola went on his first cattle drive when he was only eight months old. It was an eight mile ride and he was hooked. He began roping when he was 10 years old and he practices year-round. He also helps his father who manages a ranch in Silverthorne. Mendiola is animated when he talks about heading to Des Moines. He uses the words fun and exciting! He also hopes to bring back the “pay-out.” Most of all he is looking forward to being with his friends.
A press release from the National Junior High Finals Rodeo, explains that contestants are competing for the title of World Champion, more than $80,000 in prizes, $200,000 in college scholarships and over $100,000 in added money.