By Kevin Wilson
Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a four-part series on Portales Area Rodeo team representatives in July’s National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington. Rodeoers previously featured were Lynde Orcutt (Tuesday), Brittany Bennett (Wednesday) and Jaci Sant (Thursday).
Kenna Armitage already has her immediate rodeo future sewn up.
By the end of July, she’d like to have bragging rights as well.
Armitage, a recent Elida High School graduate, is looking for a national championship in her final appearance at the National High School Finals Rodeo. The 18-year-old roper finished second in breakaway roping at last year’s NHSFR, where she received a buckle and scholarship money. This year, she hopes for a win in the event, which will also net her a saddle and “bragging rights” for the next 12 months.
Regardless of Armitage’s performance in the national finals, she will continue roping in college. Armitage, Brittany Bennett and Lynde Orcutt — all members of the Portales Area Rodeo team that qualified for the NHSFR — will compete next year for the Eastern New Mexico University rodeo team.
“I liked Eastern and coach (David) Browder’s a nice guy,” Armitage said. “He’s always been good to me, and I wanted to stay in the area for rodeo.”
Armitage 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.
Armitage is one of four NHSFR competitors representing the area team. The team is not affiliated with any local high school, but is instead a collection of rodeoers from across the Portales area.
Team coach Bobby Grimes thinks if anybody could win a roping event, it would be Armitage.
“If there was a cowgirl, she’s a cowgirl,” Grimes said. “She’s just a cowgirl. She can rope, she can do it all.”
Armitage will again compete in breakaway roping, plus she will team up with Robert Roberson in the team roping event.
Armitage has had years of experience roping even before she joined the high school team. She is the daughter of Gary Armitage, a veteran of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and has been her father’s roping partner at countless rodeos over the years.
Roping events require a consistency Armitage has learned over the years. She said the competition at the national finals is intense and every fraction of a second counts.
“It’s very small,” Armitage said about the margin for error. “There’s actually not room for error.”