By Kevin Wilson
Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series on Portales Area Rodeo team representatives in July’s National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington. Tuesday’s story featured Lynde Orcutt, while Wednesday featured Brittany Bennett.
Responsibility’s nothing new to Jaci Sant, and neither is the National High School Finals Rodeo.
Sant, a senior-to-be at Dora High School, is making her third appearance at the NHSFR, scheduled July 21-27 at McGee Park in Farmington. The rodeo includes competitors from 39 states, four Canadian provinces and Australia.
Sant is one of four NHSFR competitors representing the Portales Area High School Rodeo team. The team is not affiliated with any local high school, but is instead a collection of rodeoers from across the Portales area. Each time, Sant said, going to one of the world’s biggest rodeos gets a little easier.
“The first time is scary,” said Sant, “You don’t know what to expect. Every year gets better, so this year should be really good.”
Rodeo coach Bobby Grimes is hopeful this year will be very good for Sant, good enough to compete for first place at nationals.
She’s really doing good,” Grimes said, “and if she doesn’t do it this year, she’ll do it next year.
“She is a good rider. She’s tall and she can set a horse good.”
She’s had practice. Sant is competing in the national cutting competition for her third time. In her first NHSFR, Sant was competing in the queen contest and the cutting contest as well.
Sant remembers trying to balance the queen schedule with her practice time, which was sometimes 3 a.m. because she simply had no other time free.
“Doing the queen contest is a full-time job at nationals,” Sant said. “When I went my sophomore year, it was way easier and more relaxed.”
Sant also competes in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway roping.
Sant should have enough to keep her busy between the 2003 and 2004 national finals. Sant is currently the Silver State Rodeo Queen, which means she travels to as many state finals as she can — Sant is currently at the Colorado state finals.
Sant is also the president of the New Mexico High School Rodeo Association, where her duties are mainly fund-raising and helping to plan the state finals rodeo.