Meghan Morey (top photo) and Gabby Watson (bottom photo) of Marysville are shown competing in high school rodeo events. Both have qualified for the national championships that will be held in Oklahoma next month. (Photos submitted)
The sport of rodeo is not one that many people think about when it comes to high school activities.
That’s not the case, however, for two local girls.
Gabby Watson, who is a 2020 graduate of Marysville High School, and Meghan Morey, who will be a sophomore at MHS in the fall, recently qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals that will be held July 17-23 in Guthrie, Okla.
Both are members of the Ohio High School rodeo team that competes during events in the state and also in West Virginia and Indiana.
The girls compete in the events of barrel racing and pole bending.
Barrel racing consists of riding a horse through a pathway of barrels.
Pole bending is based on the weaving of the horse through a path of six poles arranged in a line.
Both are timed events.
Morey has qualified for the national rodeo in both events, while Watson will compete in barrel racing.
Watson has competed in rodeos for the past five years, while Morey has been in the saddle for the last three on the rodeo circuit.
“I’ve been showing Pleasure and English horses in 4-H since I was seven years old,” said Morey, who is now 15. “Gabby got me interested in rodeo.
“I dove into it headfirst and went from there.”
Qualification for the national event is based on what riders do during the regular season.
“It’s a point system,” said Watson, 17, who has been riding since the age of eight.
“If you finish in the top four in points for the regular season, you qualify for the national event,” said Morey.
Both girls will take impressive resumes into the Oklahoma nationals.
Morey was the top rider in pole pending a year ago during Ohio’s junior high competition.
She also won the same event at the 2019 Ohio State Fair.
Watson took third place honors in barrel racing during Ohio competition and was first in the national event a year ago.
The girls earned this year’s points during the fall season.
Spring events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We competed in five events last fall,” said Watson.
Both girls were asked what they expect at next month’s event.
“I hope my first two runs in each event are clean,” said Morey. “If I can finish in the top 20 (during the first two runs in each event), I’ll be able to advance to the ‘short-go’ (the final two runs).
“Everyone who competes at nationals is a good rider,” she said. “I’m grateful that I’ve been able to qualify for the nationals and I have to stay relaxed and humble.
“A lot of it is a mental game,” she said. “However, I think the potential is there for me to advance to the short-go.”
“I’m not sure what the nationals will look like as far as the coronavirus and social distancing,” said Watson. “I hope to also make the short-go during my final competition on the high school level.
“This is the world’s biggest high school rodeo,” she said. “Oklahoma has been open for a while and we’ll just have to see what it looks like.”
Watson will attend the Hobart School of Welding Technology in Troy, Ohio this fall.
She wants to become certified in pipeline welding and eventually work on Texas oil lines.
“I’ll be taking a break from rodeo while I receive my education,” said Watson. “After that, I’d also like to participate in adult rodeo.”
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