Bareback bronco riding is a tough and often dangerous sport.
Just ask Colton Delgado, a 17-year-old who qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo, which will be held from July 15-21 in Rock Springs, Wyo.
With a first-place finish at the Kansas High School Rodeo Association’s state finals, the Great Bend native qualified for his first national event, having missed the state finals last year with an injury.
“I’ve broke my wrist, torn my (anterior cruciate ligament), my meniscus,” Delgado said. “I tore my ACL before the state finals last year. That’s why I didn’t get to compete. It’s the roughest event in rodeo but I just have the heart for it. I just love doing it.”
Delgado said he’s looking forward to the national competition.
“I’m excited,” Delgado said. “I won the short-go in the state finals. I didn’t win the season, though. I got second place in the season. At state, the first two rounds, I didn’t do very good. In the third round, I got a 66.”
Delgado’s score of 66 out of 100 possible points beat rival Jacob Willems, who finished with 47. Willems won the season with 107 event points and 1,256.3 all-around points.
Delgado had 94 event points and 1,040.95 all-around points.
This season, Delgado had a horse named Midnight Blue step on his head at a Larned rodeo, forcing him to miss several competitions. He drew Midnight Blue again for the final round of the state finals, allowing him a second chance with the horse.
“That was the main reason that I didn’t win the season,” Delgado said of his injury. “I was excited to ride it again. Ready to get some payback.”
The national competition boasts more than 1,500 contestants from 41 states, five Canadian Provinces and Australia. The athletes compete for over $200,000 dollars in prizes, as well as more than $350,000 in college scholarships.
Delgado decided to take up competition bareback riding in 2010, competing in open rodeos throughout the state.
“I just got on and started,” Delgado said. “I started on my own horses, and then I started competing. It looked easy.”