Allen Battle used his first trip to the California Junior High Rodeo State Finals as learning experience.
The nerves, the size of the crowd and the intensity of the competition were on a different level than the Los Banos Middle School student had endured before. And the results weren’t what he hoped they’d be.
Battle didn’t allow that to deter him, knowing he had one more year to make a run a state title and qualifying for nationals in Tennessee. The eighth grader upped his work load, adding a pair of events and focused on smoothing the edges on the areas he was already successful. Battle hopes the hard work is about to pay dividends as the 2017 California Junior High Rodeo State Finals gets underway in Red Bluff on Friday.
The three-day competition will run through Sunday. Battle will compete in the team roping, goat tying, ribbon roping and breakaway roping competitions.
“I learned last year that when something bad happens, just keep going on,” Battle said. “I was definitely nervous last year. I’m hoping to get down there on Thursday and just relax and enjoy the welcome dinner they have. I’m excited because they are scoring things differently this year. Last year you got scored within one event. This year it will be based off of all of your events, so if you’re only competing in two, it’s going to be tough to move on.
“I’ve focused really hard and consistency in all four of my events and I think that’s going to help me a lot.”
Battle earned his way to the state championships with top-five performances at the District 5 Championships in April. Battle turned in three third-place finishes and one fourth to move on. Only the top five performers in the sixth through eighth grades will get to represent California at the national championships.
“He works at this constantly,” Battle’s mom Jody said. “Allen gets home from school and rides until it’s dark and then starts in on his homework. He put last year behind him. He knows it’s a new year and is excited going in.”