Brandt Walton, Talara Nittler, Grady Carroll and Ashton Elliot, Las Animas County teens, lined up at 9 a.m. sharp on Saturday, Oct. 3 with jackets on and saddles cinched up ready to get underway with the Lakin, Kansas rodeo.
“It was decently cold causing some of the horses to feel a little more fresh than usual. I was feeling good just a little chilly,” said Elliot.
Elliot took second place in the morning’s breakaway roping event, tightly edging out her classmate Nittler.
In the absence of a fall volleyball season both Elliot and Nittler have increased their rodeo attendance in the anticipation of a busy spring that brings basketball, volleyball and track.
“I used to have to ride my horses after volleyball practice, in the dark, with someone following me with a light. Since there was not volleyball this year, I had a lot more time to ride my horses while it was still light out,” said Nittler.
In their 30-minute break between the morning and afternoon rodeos, competitors flew around, throwing saddles off, and rushing to get food before the next session. Before the dust could settle in the arena they were up and running again.
Wrapping up at 7 p.m. the wind-beaten and sun-kissed competitors walked back to their trailers to care for their horses ahead of Sunday’s competitions.
Walton seized second overall in points in the senior boy’s division on Saturday afternoon. Walton achieved that through a top placing in the team-roping event. Elliot also found success Saturday placing in goat tying and winning the afternoon’s breakaway roping.
Sunday proved to be a warmer day with competitors not hampered by the need for a jacket.
Anticipation was high for competitors who were looking to finish out the rodeo series with success. Their achievements this weekend will contribute to the qualification for the 2021 National Little Britches Rodeo Association Finals next summer.
Nittler stole the show Sunday placing in the barrel racing, pole bending, trail course and breakaway roping to earn the girls’ overall champion for the day.
Said Nittler, “It felt good to bounce back after having a few rough runs at nationals at the end of last season.”
Oct. 3 and 4 marked the end of three weekends of rodeo at Lakin. Points from all the rodeos were totaled and belt buckles were given to the individuals with the most points in each event.
“I knew I had to up my heading (the roper that catches the head) game if I wanted to get the buckle and it all worked out like I thought it would,” said Walton, who took home the team-roping belt buckle.
Nittler claimed the barrel racing buckle and Robert Walter, who was not present at this weekend’s rodeo, won the bareback bronc-riding buckle (due to his scores at previous rodeos). Both Walter and Nittler are ranked first nationally in their respective events.