Small miracles happen even in the rodeo world
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
June 26, 2004
At the Rants &Rambles office we occasionally come across a story we feel must be told, but we also get a rant in our head that must come out. So for this installment we will start with the nice and move to the rant and ramble.
Fran Surles knew she needed help going into the final day of competition at the Mississippi High School Rodeo state finals in Jackson recently.
With a second straight trip to the nationals on the line, the 16-year-old did not get off to a great start at the state competition.
Surles and her horse, Billy, finished 7/10ths of a second off the lead after the first run at Mississippi Coliseum, barely managing to place 10th.
While the good news was that she placed, Surles received bad news after the first run.
Billy had strained his rear quad muscle because the horse had swollen hooks.
The injury to her horse forced Surles to borrow her sister Kellie Joe's horse, R.C., for the second run.
The new horse didn't bring the young rider any new luck, as R.C. smacked a leg on a metal pipe in the ground.
R.C.'s injury forced the horse to run on three legs, and he limped to a time of 15.8 seconds.
Nationals seemed to be out of site for the cowgirl as she had two injured horses and a lot of ground to make up on the leader board.
Finally on June 12, something went right for Surles.
She road Billy the morning before the final go around and found him to be ready and able to make a run that could land them both in the national competition.
Surles said before the race started Billy nodded his head before they hit the Coliseum's floor as if to assure her he was ready to go.
And go the horse did. Surles and Billy notched a 15.282 run time good but still in need of some help to qualify for the trip to Gillette, Wyo., the site of this year's national competition.
Needing to finish in the top four at the state level, Surles made up a needed five points in the standings without being on her horse.
The rider in front of Surles in the standings was marked down for a five second penalty when her hat flew off her head.
After four days of worry and bad luck, Surles and her family jumped around like they won the Super Bowl and plans were made to head West for a second consecutive year.
Surles went to Farmington, N.M., last year for the nationals, but she said this year feels different from her first trip to the competition.
Besides having a tougher time qualifying, she has a certain calmness to her that comes from experiencing a national competition.
Nationals will be held on July 19-23.
It is official NBA coaches have to be well into their golden years and players have to be on the cusp of leaving adolescence to be in the league now.
Thursday's NBA Draft saw nine of the first 19 picks come from high schools.
You can't blame the kids for wanting to forgo college to earn mega-millions, and you can't blame the general managers for not wanting to be known as the guy who passed on the next Lebron James.
But you can expect more years of low scoring basketball with only the occasional highlight dunk, because players are no longer building their games in increments in college.
High schoolers are being thrown right into the thick of the league that is supposed to have the best in the world, and they are expected to play like men when most don't even shave like men.