JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
GRANITE SHOALS — One year after failing to advance to the National Junior High Rodeo finals of steer riding, Michael Tupper of Granite Shoals is returning.
And this time, he plans on a much better finish when he competes June 18-25 in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Last year during the second round of the national event, Tupper touched the steer with his free hand, netting a no-score.
“The first round was all right,” he said. “The second round, I touched, so I was down.”
So his goals this year are simple.
“Not to touch and ride better to get a lot better score this year,” he said. “I was pretty mad last year. I’m ready to come back.”
Tupper, who is homeschooled, finished fourth at the Texas Junior High Rodeo finals in May in steer riding to earn a berth back on the national stage. Before that, he finished first in steer riding at the Region 10 rodeo of the Texas Junior High Rodeo Association to move on to the state rodeo. The association divides the state into 10 qualifying regions.
For the 14-year-old, it’s been a grueling process because of the talent in the state.
Tupper will be one of at least 100 steer riders at the national rodeo. He’ll ride in two rounds and must have a cumulative score in the top 20 to advance to the finals, which will be June 25.
Ironically, Tupper will climb on the back of a steer before he’d climb bleachers, noting a fear of falling through the cracks that he’s overcome.
“That made me way more nervous than getting on a steer,” he said. “It’s a fun ride for me.”
Tupper is raising money for the trip. Donations may be mailed to him at 1408 Green Forest Drive, Granite Shoals, TX 78654. Make checks payable to Michael Tupper.