District 5 of the California High School Rodeo Association features cowboys and cowgirls from six different Northern California counties, but Oakdale High students don’t believe in sharing the accolades with any of them.
Twelve OHS students representing Stanislaus County tackled the best prep competitors from San Joaquin, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced, Amador and Alpine counties at the District 5 Finals on April 28 at the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds.
When the dust settled, 10 Mustang students had nabbed top-five placement in their events to qualify for the CSHRA State Finals on June 11. For the second straight year, Oakdale’s Colton Farquer nabbed the Boys All-Around title while Shae Serpa was named the top All-Around Girl.
Serpa, an OHS senior, stayed busy with action in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping to collect her second consecutive all-around honor.
“It’s difficult to keep up with both school and social life and also do rodeo,” Serpa said on Sunday. “People are less aware of the rodeo than other high school sports, but you develop special bonds with friends and being able to see them go to state and compete is really exciting.”
Serpa and Farquer join Terrilyn Balaam, Juday Burton, Caden Farquer, Tanner Kent, Wyatt Landes, Kaitlin New, Austin Paddock, and Jaycee Spence on the list of Oakdale state qualifiers. Mustang sophomore Elizabeth Staal was named the District 5 queen, and will also compete for the elite title of State Rodeo Queen, a post New captured in 2011.
New, who was one of the top finalists for the National Rodeo Queen, made a return trip to state after qualifying in breakaway roping at the District 5 Finals. She will join the best 300 competitors from nine total districts that scatter across the barrage of rodeo events.
Colton Farquer was second among 45 qualifiers in tie-down roping at the state finals a year ago, and landed the fastest time of any cowboy at state when he captured a thrilling 10.42-second time in the short go. He cruised to a tie-down title at the district finals.
Colton isn’t the only one in the family with rodeo skills.
His freshman brother, Caden, did well in a host of events and was even named the Reserve All-Around Cowboy and Rookie Cowboy.
Tanner Kent also won team roping with partner Case Hirdes while Balaam won breakaway roping and Wyatt Landes was first in bull riding.
Serpa won her title in pole bending. It sounds like a contest you would expect to see in a ‘World’s Strongest Man’ competition, but the event takes skill and expert command of a mount as horse and rider weave around six poles in a serpentine path.
For Serpa, it’s the thrill she has grown to love.
“I love the rush of competing,” Serpa said. “It’s an incredible feeling.”
The State Finals are in Bishop. The top five individuals will move on to the prestigious National Rodeo.
The Oakdale Junior High team will also send Wyatt Hansen, Kenzie Spence and Travis Kent to the Jr. High State Finals on May 18, 19 and 20 in Plymouth. Hansen was the District 5 All-Around Junior High Champion.