wasatch front jr high rodeo photo

Members of the 2019 Wasatch Front Junior High Rodeo Association pose for a photograph. The rodeo club, based in Taylor, hasn't been able to take its group photo for 2020 yet due to many events being cancelled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wasatch Front Junior High Rodeo Association has a pretty big geographical reach, even beyond the mountain range for which the association is named.

"We have kids from Davis County, Weber County, out of Evanston, Wyoming, all over," club secretary Kelli Nelson said.

Nelson says she started the club, based in Taylor, in 2006 with about 15-20 junior high-aged kids so they can compete in rodeos throughout Utah.

It has kids from Weber, Davis, Box Elder and Cache counties plus some from Wyoming.

At one point, Nelson said she was on the board for the Utah Youth Rodeo Association and conversations started happening about starting something specific for junior high kids.

Nelson's two children were junior high-aged at the time, and she figured she'd stick with that age group.

Right now, she estimates the club has about 35 kids, with 30 in the junior high age group and five more in a fifth-grade-and-under group.

Nelson grew up rodeoing and in a normal world where everything isn't canceled or postponed. She still barrel races occasionally.

Both her children were bull riders — Nelson had a mechanical bull in the backyard for them when they were younger — and grew up with Tim and Tyler Bingham, who have had success on the national rodeo stage.

"I love how the rodeo gives the kids a foundation with a goal to work towards. These kids are hard working. You can't go out and rodeo just because," she said.

Speaking of bull riders, Tim and Tyler Bingham were both in the club, according to Nelson.

Tim Bingham qualified for the National Finals Rodeo three times (2014, 2016-17) in bull riding and won the San Angelo (Texas) rodeo this past February.

Tyler Bingham, the younger brother, has gone to the NFR the past two years and finished fourth in the world standings in 2019 with $246,399 in season earnings.

As of early April, he's won two rodeos in 2020 in Homestead, Florida, and Queen Creek, Arizona.

Nelson says the Bingham brothers' success can serve as a goal for kids who are in the club.

"This path that has been set here in Utah gives these kids a great foundation to be able to do that," she said.

The Wasatch Front Junior High Rodeo Association is one of eight junior high rodeo clubs in the state of Utah, and in order to compete in rodeos, kids have to be part of a club, Nelson said.

The junior high rodeo associations are under the umbrella of the Utah High School Rodeo Association, which puts on the state finals every June in Heber City.

The top four finishers at the state finals move on to the national finals in July in Lincoln, Nebraska. Kids in the WFJHRA are also eligible for scholarships that the UHSRA distributes.

The WFJHRA normally hosts a rodeo in Tremonton at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds every year. This year's rodeo had been scheduled for April 17-18 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The association has had to cancel numerous jackpots and weekly rodeos in light of the pandemic. The UHSRA canceled all events until May 2 in line with Gov. Gary Herbert's order to keep public schools closed until at least May 1.

Nelson says she hopes the rodeo can be rescheduled for sometime in May, but isn't sure.

Normally, the association has been able to take a group photo of all of its members by this time of year. That, too, hasn't happened due to so many cancellations.

While some events are canceled or postponed, rodeo events can still be practiced.

"You still have people practicing in the backyards," she said.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!