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Union cousins among area competitors in National Rodeo

By Staff
Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
July 23, 2003
Holly McBeath and Zan Tillman of Union are part of a six-person area contingent competing in the 55th-annual National High School Finals Rodeo at Farmington, N.M., this week.
Other area cowboys and cowgirls competing in New Mexico are Tyler Pearson of Louisville, Josh Napp of Enterprise, Drew Watkins of Neshoba Central, and Fran Surles of Northwest Junior High in Meridian.
Competition began last Saturday and wraps up this Saturday. To be eligible, cowboys and cowgirls had to finish in the top four in their respective events at their state rodeo.
Pearson was first in cutting, second with Tillman in team roping, and third in steer wrestling. Napp was first in the state in steer wrestling and third in calf roping. Watkins was first in Mississippi in bareback riding. Surles was fourth in barrel racing.
McBeath won the 2003 Mississippi girls cutting championship earlier this summer in Jackson.
The recent graduate of Leake Academy will be riding Docs Southern Belle at Farmington. She plans to attend East Central Community College this fall, but not as a member of ECCC's rodeo team.
"I'm looking forward to meeting tons of people from all different states," McBeath said of the nationals. "They have people from 39 states, five Canadian provinces, and Australia. There's all different types of people."
McBeath competed in the 2002 nationals which were also held at Farmington.
"I was in the cutting last year, but I didn't make the Top 15," McBeath said. "I'm looking at doing good this year, hopefully. I have a different horse.
"It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it out there. And when you get there, it takes a lot of hard work to get to the top. It
is very tough."
This is McBeath's third year to rodeo and she's enjoyed every minute of it.
"I've had a blast," McBeath said. "Horses in general are good animals. They teach you responsibility. You have to take care of them.
"You have to feed them, hay them, make sure they have water, make sure their stalls are clean, make sure they're not too cold and not too hot. They basically get taken better care of than most people.
"And rodeoing is a good family sport."
Each of her three years have resulted in a trip to the nationals with the first being at Springfield, Ill., in 2001.
While she's still relatively new to rodeoing, McBeath has been around horses all her life.
"I grew up on a horse," McBeath said. "It's a lot of fun in competing, especially when it pays off."
With last year's nationals also in New Mexico, McBeath picked up a few tips that may help her this year.
"It's a very different climate in New Mexico," McBeath said. "There's no humidity there. It's just like when you take off running, you run out of breath real fast. Your horse is the same way.
"When you go out there, they have to become adjusted to breathing in that climate. They have a lot shorter breath span in a drier climate. While they're out there, they adapt. You just don't overheat them. You have to ease them around the first few days. After that, they're okay."
Tillman will be competing in two events. At state, he was second in boys cutting on Doc N Five, second in team roping on Skyjaded with Pearson, and fourth in calf roping on Mr. Prescription Bars.
He'll only be competing in team roping and calf roping in New Mexico due a
serious illness with his cutting horse.
The 2003 graduate of Union High School plans to attend either ECCC or the
University of West Alabama this fall. Tillman has been in rodeoing for seven years and has gone to the nationals all four years he was in high school.
"I pretty much know what to expect," Tillman said. "It's a lot tougher than
the state rodeo. Last year I learned that I needed to practice more."
While not competing, there are other activities to participate in.
"You've got volleyball games and jackpot pens and the whole state gets
together for a picnic," Tillman said.
McBeath was introduced to the sport by Tillman and his older sister,
"My cousins, Zan and Natalie, have been rodeoing a long time and they got
me involved in it," said McBeath, whose background had been in horse shows. "I had gotten bored with the horse showing and wanted to do something different.
Natalie has been a member of the rodeo team at ECCC and participated in the
53rd-annual College National Rodeo Finals at Casper, Wyo., in 2002.