Closing in: 8th-grader gaining on rodeo competitors


As the calf moves into position, Josh Rorig patiently waits in an adjacent box atop his mare.

Rorig nods, and a spring-loaded door on a chute is released with a light rope attached to the calf’s neck.

While the calf has the head start, Rorig and his horse stay close on its tail.

Rorig throws a lasso around the calf’s neck; the horse stops; the rope is tied to the saddle horn with a string and pulled tight until the string breaks.

All in less than four seconds — on his first try.

At the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Lebanon Tennessee, Rorig placed 14th in the worldwide competition for the breakaway event in the cinch division.

For the breakaway, Rorig combined for an average of 13.02 seconds.

His fastest go was 3.62, followed by times of 4.36 and 5.04.

A split second error out of the box would have dropped Rorig out of his top-15 placing.

Had Rorig broken the barrier before the calf was released — just once — he would have taken a 10 seconds penalty.

“It made me feel accomplished,” Rorig said of his placing. “I was doing everything right compared to last year. I wasn’t really prepared last year, but I was this year.”

Rorig said he has gone under three seconds for breakaway, but not yet in a competition.

The incoming eighth-grader at Lutheran Central qualified for multiple events at the enormous competition — featuring over 1,000 contestants from 42 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia —  after three top 4 performances at the state-level rodeo.

In the Indiana Junior Rodeo state competition’s cinch division, Rorig got first in team roping with his partner Clay Yadon, of Otterbein.

Rorig also placed second in ribbon roping, with Maci Zimmerman of New Ross, and third for breakaway at state that qualified him for nationals.

Nationals were conducted at the Wilson County Fairgrounds, an outside venue, a stark difference from 2015 rodeo at the indoors Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Rorig said that his mare like the footing better in Lebanon, and it proved a big difference with his times.

The Brownstown native has one more year in junior high competition before he is bumped up to compete against high schoolers.

He has big aspirations in his final year with the junior high cowboys.

“I want to win all of my events,” Rorig said. “I’m going to have to be really aggressive.”

Until next year’s nationals, Rorig will continue to travel the country with his family to test his rodeo skills.

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