West End student to compete at world’s largest junior high rodeo

Keara O’Connor, an eighth-grade homeschooled student from West End, has earned a position on the North Carolina national junior high rodeo team and will travel with fellow teammates to Des Moines, IA, from June 23 through June 29 to compete at the 19th annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) in barrel racing and goat tying competitions.

Featuring roughly 1,200 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces, Australia, and Mexico, the NJHFR is the world’s largest junior high rodeo. In addition to competing for more than $80,000 in prizes, NJHFR contestants will compete for more than $200,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named a National Junior High Finals Rodeo World Champion.

To earn this title, contestants must finish in the top 20 — based on their combined times/scores in the first two go-rounds to advance to the final round. World champions will then be determined based on their three go-round combined times/scores. Added money for the optional jackpot has increased to $100,000 and is available to everyone at finals who enters the jackpot in their event.

“Keara has shown true grit and determination in her first season of rodeo, maneuvering through multiple obstacles from injured horses to breaking her leg,” said Keara’s mother, Jennifer O’Connor. “She kept riding through it all and has not let anything hold her back from reaching her goal of competing at a national level.”

Keara aims to continue her rodeo career throughout high school, college and the professional level and has started her own business venture, “Cowgirl Connect,” to spread the joy of rodeo and connect those who love the sport. To support and encourage Keara, you can reach her through Cowgirl Connect at Facebook.com/cowgirlconnect — Instagram @cowgirlconnect4 — or via email at [email protected].

The championship performance will be televised nationally as a part of the Cinch High School Rodeo Tour telecast series on RFD-TV. Live broadcasts of all NJHFR performances will air on https://www.cowboychannelplus.com/. Performance times are 7 p.m. on June 23 and 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day after that.

To follow Keara at the NJHFR, visit www.NHSRA.com daily for complete results. 

Feature photo: Keara O’Connor performs at a junior high school rodeo this past season-courtesy photo.

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