Ready For Rock Springs

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Six area rodeo riders and shooters will be representing both Valencia County and New Mexico at the National High School Finals Rodeo next week after emerging as qualifiers from a recent state-wide competition.

Wyatt Harper, J.P Montoya and Lane Wimberly, of Belen, will be joined by sisters Kimberlie and Bethanie Shofner, of Tomé, as well as Lorenzo Lara, of Los Lunas, after the sextet all finished in the top four at the New Mexico High School Finals Rodeo in Lovington at the end of May.

Submitted photos: SIX AREA RODEO RIDERS, and shooters, top clockwise from bottom left, Bethanie Shofner, J.P. Montoya, Wyatt Harper, Lane Wimberly and Lorenzo Lara, along with Kimberlie Shofner (not pictured) qualified recently for the National High School Finals Rodeo to be held this week.

They all now advance to the NHSFR held in Rock Spring, Wyo., from Sunday, July 13, to Saturday, July 19.

Lara qualified in three divisions ― steer wrestling, trap sooting and light rifle, while Wimberly qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding. Joining Lara in the light rifle competition will be Kimberlie Shofner. Harper and Montoya both qualified in bareback riding while Bethanie Shofner will compete in pole bending.

Harper, who recently graduated from Valencia High School, is now a two-time state champion in bareback riding after capturing a second title in Lovington. He is also a consistent top-10 finisher in bull riding and saddle bronc riding.

“I’m very grateful to represent the great state of New Mexico,” said Harper, who is attending the NHSFR for a second consecutive year. “I hope to bring home a national title for our state.”

Lara, who also captured state titles in the light rifle and steer wrestling categories, said his first go at state was “frustrating.”

“I got out late on my steer and missed him,” Lara said. “But the second and short go turned out to be good rounds.”

Bethanie Shofner, who is attending her first appearance at the NMHSFR, won the state title in pole bending in 2012. She echoed the sentiments of all six qualifiers in her thoughts about this week’s competition.

“I feel accomplished and am very proud to be representing New Mexico,” she said. “I’m sure it will be a tough competition but I will do my best to compete at a national level and make New Mexico proud.”

Sister Kimberlie, who like Bethanie is currently a student at Calvary Chapel Academy in Belen, said she came into the NMHSFR State in fifth place in overall rankings but was able to move up a spot and qualify for nationals.

“I did better than I expected in my event,” she said. “Since this is my first year competing in the shooting events, it is pretty exciting to have qualified for nationals.”

Montoya finished second at state in bronc riding behind Harper in Lovington. Wimberly, who is a regular at regional bull riding competitions, had his best finish in the saddle bronc competition at state, finishing in second place.

This year’s National High School Finals Rodeo will be streamed on the internet at www.nhsratv.com. You can also find results and information on the National High School Rodeo Association at http://www.nhsra.com.