The International Finals Youth Rodeo brings together the best young talent in the country and the difference from being in the money and going home empty-handed can be measured in the width of a rope.
A hard fact in rodeo in which veteran calf and team roper and Yukon High School graduate Layton Little was reminded of last week in Shawnee.
In his final IFYR appearance, the reigning state champion in calf roping finished out of the money in both events.
“It was not the way I wanted it (IFYR) to end but I’m still glad I got the experience. I hate for it to be over but it’s got to end sometime,” said Little from the road on his way to Gillette, Wyo., for the National High School Rodeo Association Finals.
Little, who took fourth last year in calf roping at the IFYR, logged a no-time in his first go-round. Then in his final ride before the field was trimmed to the top 15 for the finals, Little got the rope on the steer but had a time of 12.3 seconds.
‘I did not get a good draw in the second go-round. The calf had not been caught in a week and I did get a rope on her but it was not a very good time. It was long,” said Little.
He closed tied for 86th out of 170 contestants in calf roping.
“It was not good. I missed in the first go-round trying too hard,” said Little.
In the team roping event he paired with Jakob Dees of Elgin and found similar results. In the first go-round, Little missed getting his rope around the legs of the steer.
“The steer made a sharp turn and I just missed him. We were trying to make up for it (second run) and he (Jakob) missed on that run,” said Little.
The two no-times left the Oklahomans tied for 97th out of 171 teams.
Little says leaving empty-handed is just part of the sport of rodeo.
“It’s just a part of roping and rodeoing, there is going to be ups and downs. You will have one run which will be the best you have ever had and the next might be the worst you’ve ever had. It’s a mental game,” said Little.
Little was slated to ride Sunday in the first round of the nationals in calf roping, then have a break of five days before riding again on Saturday.
“That’s a long break but they do have some jackpot events in between where you can get some money,” said Little.
It will be his final high school event before focusing on his college rodeo career at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.