During the ceremony to award California’s top high school rodeo queen on June 18 in Bishop, Rylee Roberts turned to her dad and said, “I can’t believe I’m getting crowned right now.”
In a landslide victory, the incoming senior at Hollister High School won seven of the eight categories contestants were judged upon to take home the California High School Rodeo Association State Finals Queen crown.
Roberts advances to compete in the National High School Rodeo Association Finals in Gillette, Wyo., July 17-23. Roberts won the state competition in her second try, finishing in the middle of the pack last year.
“I didn’t win last year, which was kind of a bummer,” she said. “I didn’t do terrible, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be so I definitely worked harder for it this year. After last year, I knew I was going to run again. I focused on my weak areas and got as much help as I possibly could. Luckily, I have an amazing support group that helped me.”
That included her agriculture teachers at Hollister High who helped Roberts with her speaking skills, and her grandma who called Roberts every morning to help her prepare for interviews. Rodeo queen contestants are judged for personality, appearance, modeling, speech, impromptu, interview and horsemanship.
There’s also a written test they have to take.
“It’s a lot so it was exciting that I was able to win seven of the eight categories,” she said.
In the state competition, Roberts represented District 4—there are nine total. Roberts is most proud of the fact that she has become more comfortable speaking in front of people.
“In the past, I’ve been a very shy person and had to overcome a lot to get out of my shell and answer questions on the spot,” she said. “Usually things like this are very difficult for me, but I’ve worked very hard to covericeome these things.”
For earning the California high school rodeo queen crown, Roberts gets to take part in the famed Rose Parade.
“It’s something I’ve always seen on TV but never been to in person,” she said. “That is probably one of the most exciting things going on this year other than Nationals.”
Roberts comes from a rodeo background, with experience in several disciplines, including breakaway roping, pole bending and cutting. Her dad roped in top competitions and she was on a horse not too long after she could walk.
“I grew up into the sport and as soon as I could get on a horse, I never really stopped,” Roberts said.
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]