Pair of middle school rodeo club members take first in state finals

Two White Pine Middle School students are moving on to compete in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) after both took first place in the state rodeo finals held in Winnemucca on May 22.

Jessie Leyba and Shay Zeman will join with the other junior high students from around the state as part of the Nevada Junior High Rodeo Team. In order to earn a spot on the team, the students needed to have placed within the top four of their event at the state rodeo.

This is the second year that Leyba has advanced past the state rodeo to the national compeition in the rifle shooting event. The seventh grader said that she was intimindated last year by the scope of the event and the other competitors and that she hopes to have calmer nerves this year.

“Now that I’ve been there before I think it won’t get to me as much. My goal is just to shoot better than I did last year and see how it goes,” Leyba said.

The trip to nationals will be a first for Zeman, who will compete in the ribbon roping event with her fellow first place partner from state, Tyler Bundy of Alamo. Zeman said that she is still trying to process that she placed first out of all the competitors in the state.

“I’m still taking it all in. People keep asking me what are you doing this summer and I tell them I’m going to rodeo nationals. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really excited,” the eighth grader said.

The NJHFR will host 1,000 contestants from 42 states to compete for more than $75,000 in prizes and over $100,000 in college scholarships.

Both girls plan on moving on to the high school rodeo club after they graduate White Pine Middle School. The high school club will host the Nevada State High School Finals Rodeo on June 12-15 at the County Fairgrounds where 16 White Pine club members will compete for their chance to go to state.

White Pine Rodeo Members Shay Zeman and Jessie Leyba hold their first place belt buckles from the state finals rodeo held in Winnemucca on May 22. (Courtesy photo)

White Pine Rodeo Members Shay Zeman and Jessie Leyba hold their first place belt buckles from the state finals rodeo held in Winnemucca on May 22.
(Courtesy photo)