HOLTWOOD, Pa. (WHTM) — Recent Penn Manor graduate Darby Conrad is preparing for the final rodeo of her high school career. It also happens to be the biggest.
Conrad is leaving this weekend for Guthrie, Oklahoma to compete in the National High School Finals rodeo from July 17-23. A rodeo athlete competing on this stage isn’t common, but she has been involved in the sport for a long time.
“I went to school with like 700 kids and maybe five of them knew what a rodeo was,” she joked.
She competes out of Maryland and, despite a season shuttered by COVID-19, her marks were still good enough to qualify in all five events she participates in. She’s choosing to focus on three events when she gets to Oklahoma — barrel racing, breakaway roping and pole bending.
Roughly 1,500 athletes travel to the country’s biggest and most prestigious high school rodeo. Darby’s chances are as good as anybody’s.
“Any given Sunday, you can fall off [your horse],” she said. “You don’t have to have a big name to rodeo.”
Conrad is just happy to be healthy enough to take part. This week was her first and only week of practice before heading west. She recently broke her arm and she wasn’t able get on a horse for six weeks.
“I broke my arm roping,” Conrad said. “I fell off — it was a nice, easy fall, but I reached back at the last second and I broke both bones at my wrist.”
This was the latest in what has been a slew of injuries over the past couple of years, but injuries are all too common in the sport. She’s thankful for still being able to do what she loves.
“God’s blessing the whole way,” she said, laughing. “Without God, there are some days you’re lucky if you even step out of the arena with some of those falls.”
She hopes for an injury-free trip to the national finals. The future college rodeo athlete is also hoping to finish in the Top 50.
“I’m super excited for this,” she said. “I’m going to try my hardest. I might not be at the top, but it’s God’s will at the end of the day.”