Rodeo isn’t generally considered a mainstream sport but it carries all the traditional components.
Since its creation in 1882, some consider rodeo as America’s original extreme sport, and here on the Central Coast, there is one of the most talented California High School Rodeo Association districts.
The Magnificent 7 is the name for District 7, one of nine districts in California representing San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. They have 88 members, both from junior high and high school.
The district recently hosted the Mid-State Classic High School Rodeo held at the Paso Robles event center.
“It’s definitely the biggest one (rodeo) in California. Some people say it’s the biggest rodeo west of the Mississippi, so that’s pretty exciting we get to host such a great event,” said Ashley Lewis, The Magnificent 7 student president.
“Everyone does a lot for District 7. We all work together a lot,” Fallon Ruffoni explained, Mid-State Classic Cutting top 3. “It’s been cool to have the biggest rodeo and be part of who puts it on.”
Preparing for the rodeo is like any other sport – it takes time, practice, and discipline. However, unlike other sports, the teammate is a horse and the opponent is another animal.
“You’re working with another animal who has another mind and you really have to work on getting both of you to focus on the competition. It takes a lot of teamwork,” said Chance Leatherman, back-to-back Mid-State Classic Cutting champion.
The rodeo also imposes safety risks athletes have to face every time they take a step into the arena.
Mid-State Classic Goat Tying champion Maggie Usher injured herself during competition and continued to finish the event.
“I work out all the time and am trying to just get strong and stuff, but you’re always going to have injuries. I just fractured my ankle my second go, so you know, it’s just always having that component of injury but also working hard and getting ready for the event,” said Usher.
The Magnificent 7 district totaled the most points at the Mid-State Classic with 416.5 points. They also won or finished in the top three in six of the 13 events.
The Mid-State Classic High School Rodeo also received help from Ben Londo and the Cal Poly Rodeo team as well as Clint and Connie Pearce and the Cuesta Rodeo team.