Texas High School Rodeo State Finals adapting to COVID-19

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ABILENE, TX. (KTAB/KRBC)- The 31st Texas High School Rodeo State Finals are underway. In an effort to keep the contestants, their families, and the public safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, the setup for this year’s rodeo looks a little different. Only families can be in attendance, and there will be no public spectators.

“Every day we bring two different regions on, so we’re kind of cycling kids and contestants and their families on and off the groups during the week,” said Texas High School Rodeo Association Marketing Director Holly Delaune.

At one point there was doubt over whether or not the finals would be held, and one contestant says despite the changes she can hardly contain her excitement.

“Texas High School State Finals gives the youth an opportunity to display our skills and our lifestyle and we’re all super excited this is still happening,” said Ms. Texas High School Rodeo, Laramie Dearing.

For the first time the finals are being held in the newly opened Taylor Telecom Arena, at the Taylor County Expo Center.

“I just stepped foot in it probably about 20-minutes ago, and I was blown away. It is amazing. It’s so clean, it’s immaculate, and I just can’t wait to compete in here,” said competitor Jake Kahla.

The pandemic caused the cancellation of most high school sports, so this event is a much-needed last ride for the graduating seniors.

“Just to be able to be here and complete and finish out my last, my final, senior year of high school at state finals with my friends and the people I surrounded myself with my entire life, it is immeasurable what it means to me,” said Kahla.

These young athletes have worked for years to get to this point, and even though this year’s rodeo is not exactly how they envisioned it, the safety precautions in place give them the opportunity to compete in the events they love.

Abilene has won the contract to host the Texas High School Rodeo State Finals through 2021.

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