Topeka (KSNT) –
It’s been a Topeka tradition for more than 50 years- hosting the Kansas High School Rodeo finals. More than 150 athletes across Kansas vying for a chance to win a state title.
While it’s one of the most unique high school sports, it’s also one of the most expensive.
You need “a competitive horse, trailer, truck, hotel, gasoline, entry fees- you name it. It’s a very expensive sport,” says Dr. Chris Miller, the team physician at the event.
The sport is so expensive that some parents, like Heidi Depue, had to get a second job so that her daughter could compete.
“You’re looking at thousands by the end of the season…A good barrel racing horse for like the pros- they’ll go up to like $100,000 horses,” says Depue.
She says it’s not uncommon for many of the competitors to spend more than $25,000 on a year’s worth of competition.
“Kinda puts a lot of pressure on you to do good,” says Jayme Flowers.
Jayme along with her horse, Cinnamon, are front runners in this weekend’s rodeo.
As a junior she has a world championship win, but no state title. Something she’s trying to change.
“It would mean a lot. Because I’ve rodeoed since I was five,” says Flowers.
Many competitors have been working with horses for more than ten years.
While this weekend is just one high school competition, many riders are thinking long term.
“A lot of people choose to do this full-time….There are kids competing today that would like to be professionals in their events,” says Miller.
He says that you can make a lot of money going pro; something riders know.
However, “There’s a lot of things in life that we do for money, and a lot of things that we do for love. And I would say that the vast majority of these people do it because they have a love and passion for it,” says Miller.
The state rodeo will continue through Saturday at the Expocenter. The top four riders in each event qualify for a trip to the national competition in Wyoming