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By Whitney Wyatt/The Red River Sun—
CHILDRESS – The STS Jr. Championship on Aug. 14-16 at the Mashburn Event Center roped in more than 1,000 attendees and about 200 contestants from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina.
“It doesn’t matter to us if it’s football, basketball, baseball, roping or Wednesday night youth at church, if it involves youth, that’s the most important thing to Jennifer and me,” said Stran Smith, who hosted the event. “We are called to young people and speaking life into young people.”
Smith said when he can bring youth and roping together and share it with his hometown, it benefits everyone.
“It (STS Jr. Championship) was a great turnout,” said Smith, who was the 2008 World Champion Tie-Down Roper and has 11 Wrangler National Finals
Qualifications. “My hat’s off to everyone who helped make this successful.”
Smith said it took a lot of energy, effort and money to make it a success. Sheabree Nix and her family, Chad and Holly Cox and Leslie and Shirece Bruce did the behind the scenes work.
“Without these 3 families, this would not have gone off,” Smith said. “I can’t say enough about how pleased I was with how it was run and how everyone came together to pull it together.”
The three-day rodeo consisted of barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping and tie down roping. Smith said it was a qualifier for the Mike and Sherrylynn Johnson’s Vegas Tuffest Jr World Championship and the Tuf Cooper Jr World Championship, which is his nephew’s event.
“Those are extremely large events,” Smith said. “That was a blessing and helped with the draw of contestants.”
Nix, coordinator at the Mashburn Event Center, said most contestants entered more than once. There were 650 total entries.
The STS Jr. Championship started with the 12 and Under Barrel Racing and 19 and Under Barrel Racing on Friday, Aug. 14. Saturday’s events consisted of 19 and Under Girls Goat Tying, 15 and Under Girls Goat Tying, 12 and Under Co-Ed Goat Tying, 10 and Under Co-Ed Breakaway, 12 and Under Co-Ed Breakaway and 15 and Under Ladies Breakaway.
It ended on Sunday, Aug. 16 with 19 and Under Ladies Breakaway, 12 and Under Co-Ed Tie Down, 15 and Under Boys Tie Down and 19 and Under Boys Tie Down. Smith said they paid out almost $30,000 in cash and prizes.
“Sheabree has had a vision for this,” Smith said. “It’s been a dream come true for her.”
Nix said it wasn’t just a dream come true for her. Four hometown kids, Colee Cox and Cutter, Sterling and Quay Bruce, placed or won events and didn’t have to drive hours to a rodeo.
“This seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to come together and put on a great event,” Nix said.
And it won’t be a one-time thing. They are already talking about making it an annual deal, Smith added. For him, the most important thing is for the youth to take on the sport.
Smith said roping has been more than a hobby. It’s his everything: his passion, career, heritage and family. He’s thankful for all his grandfather Will T and father Clifton put into him, his brother and nephews.
“My first biggest fan was Will T,” Smith said. “Roping is so dear to my heart. Roping has been my life. Retired, I still walk around and swing a rope even if it’s in my mind.”