Kelsey Cadwell of Oakdale is competing this week in the 26th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo, which runs through Friday, July 13 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Cadwell is participating in the world’s richest youth rodeo, hoping to win her share of more than $250,000 in prize money and championship saddles and buckles.
Cadwell joins more than 850 of the top high school rodeo athletes from around the world for the 2018 IFYR. Contestants will compete in 10 events running simultaneously in three arenas throughout the week. Events include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding. The IFYR consists of two long go-rounds and a short go. All contestants compete once in each of the long go-rounds. The top 15 averages in each event will compete in the short go finals on Friday.
Cadwell will compete in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping. She will be a senior in the fall at Oakdale High School and is the daughter of Travis and Tiffany Cadwell.
“The International Finals Youth Rodeo attracts the best youth rodeo athletes in the world,” said Chris Dunlap, assistant director of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center and International Finals Youth Rodeo. “The IFYR was developed to provide a professional level competition to high school athletes and now, more than two decades later, the IFYR is where any hopeful rodeo champion wants to be and be seen.”
Each year, a number of International Finals Youth Rodeo contestants submit their application to be selected for the IFYR Youth Director program for the following year’s rodeo. These distinguished representatives are chosen based on their outstanding qualifications and commitment to leadership; Cadwell was one of those selected.
Youth Directors serve as student representatives throughout the year in their leadership role. They assist in recruiting future contestants and serve as spokespersons for the IFYR and its sponsors.
During rodeo week, Directors act as the liaison between contestants and rodeo judges. They are responsible for hearing protests and requests from fellow contestants and relaying that information to IFYR judges and staff, all while being a contestant first and foremost. Youth Directors also participate in the grand entry of all performances and carry flags.
The 2018 Youth Directors, in addition to Kelsey Cadwell, are: Tatum Nelson of Alvarado, Texas; Haley Polk from Prattville, Alabama; Garrett Guillot of Fitzpatrick, Alabama; Garrett Golliher of Stoutland, Missouri; and Aly Ghormley of Madisonville, Texas.
The International Finals Youth Rodeo, held annually since 1993, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that presents top high school athletes with a professional rodeo. The internationally-recognized IFYR is held annually at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma. In 2017, more than 920 contestants and their families traveled from 34 states and Australia to participate in the IFYR. For more information, visit IFYR.com.