Poplarville rodeo champion goes to nationals

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2016

CALF-ROPING: Poplarville native Chase Graves will compete in the National High School Finals Rodeo in July.  Photo submitted

CALF-ROPING: Poplarville native Chase Graves will compete in the National High School Finals Rodeo in July.
Photo submitted

For the second year in a row, 17-year-old Poplarville native and rodeo champion Chase Graves qualified to compete at the annual National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming.
Last week, Graves competed in the Mississippi High School Rodeo State finals held in Hattiesburg. He placed first in calf roping, second in team roping and second overall in the state. Graves said he competed against more than 110 students.
He won a saddle, four or five belt buckles and college scholarships, Graves said.
However, in Wyoming, Graves will be one among 1,650 contestants hailing from 43 states, five Canadian Provinces and Australia.
Students will be competing for more than $200,000 in prizes, $350,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named the NHSFR World Champion, a NHSFR release states.
Graves, who is the son of Lisa and Frank Graves, said he was born and raised in a family who participates in rodeos.
“My dad did it professionally and I’ve been around it my whole life,” he said. “I’ve been practicing since I was 10 or 11. I always knew, sort of, how to rope. It’s kind of second nature to me. I remember going to junior rodeos and liking those. I wanted to see how good I could be by practicing hard.”
During the calf-roping event, Graves said he must first rope the calf’s neck, and then jump off his horse. Once he gets to the calf, he has to tie the animal’s front and back legs. The animal must stay tied for six seconds, he said.
In team roping, Graves works with a partner. One is the header and the other is the heeler. The header ropes the calf’s head while the heeler ropes the hind legs, Graves said.
Both events are timed. Graves said his best time has been about 9.2 seconds.
Graves’ efforts have certainly paid off. When he was in the eighth grade, he placed first at nationals and earned second place his freshman year, he said.
Graves will be a senior at Poplarville High School this year who plans to attend Pearl River Community College and then move onto university. He said he plans to major in engineering or marketing.
But, he will continue to participate in rodeos.
“I’ve always dreamed of it,” he said. “I practice, try to keep my horses in shape and prepare myself mentally for each rodeo. You go and have fun and be prepared to do the best you can do and that’s all you can do.”
According to the NHSFR release, the next rodeo will be held July 17-23. The Saturday championship performance will be televised nationally as a part of the Cinch Highschool Rodeo Tour telecast series on RFD-TV. Live broadcasts of each NHSFR performance will air online at www.NHSRATV.com. Performance times are 7 p.m. on July 17 and 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day after, the release states.

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