story by Lindsay Humphrey Going into the KJHSRA finals, Logan Vander Hamm wasn’t optimistic about his chances of making it to nationals in team roping. […]
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story by Lily Weinacht
Joree Bentz of Washington, Kan., was the KJRA All-Around Cowgirl in both 2013 and 2014 in the 6 and under age group. The seven year old was awarded a custom made trophy saddle each year, and she sports one of them every time she competes in her events of barrel racing, pole bending, and goat tail untying. Joree, who has been rodeoing for the last five years, also competes in the dummy roping and sheep riding. “I love hanging out with my friends, and I love my rodeo horse, Pepper!” she says. One of her main goals for the summer includes riding eight sheep, and she is already halfway to her goal. But pole bending is Joree’s favorite event, especially since she and her Appaloosa pony, Pepper, are in perfect tandem as they weave the poles. “I think Joree and Pepper were made for each other,” says Lainie Bentz, Joree’s mom. “They are both so energetic – you couldn’t find a more perfect fit!”
Joree was first inspired to rodeo by her sister, Makinna (16), and brother, Wyatt (14). Makinna competes in the KHSRA, while Wyatt competes in both the KJRA and KJHSRA. The three siblings often practice together and their dad, Phil Bentz, coaches them in their events. During the Salina rodeo in May, Joree was awarded several horse products for winning all-around cowgirl, which Pepper enjoyed.
The Bentz family and their horses, dog, cats, goats, cows, and calves, make their home near Washington, which has plenty of quiet country roads for Joree and Pepper to ride on. Phil owns and works at his veterinary clinic in Washington, while Lainie assists with the bookwork. Joree is spending much of her summer rodeoing and working on 4-H projects, from building a small rocket, to raising a bucket calf and doing crafts. This is her first year of 4-H, and Joree is the club’s song leader. She’ll also compete on Pepper in the 4-H rodeos in barrels and poles. Joree enjoys seeing the sights of the county fair, as well as going swimming, and working on the homework that her teacher assigns them during summer break. If the students complete their packet of homework and bring it back the first day of school, they receive a prize. Joree, who just finished first grade at Washington Elementary, is an avid learner, and already completed her homework, with reading being her favorite subject, though she also loves gymnastics.
Whether it’s summer break or the school year, Joree and her brother and sister are valuable farm hands as they help their parents raise beef cattle. Wyatt is also raising longhorn cattle, which Joree happily helps with. Her favorite job is bringing in the cows with the four-wheeler, but she is eager to help with any chore that needs doing. Other summer activities include playing t-ball – a simplified version of softball – on a local league. Her favorite part of the game is running the bases. When it’s time to get out of the heat, Joree can be found watching two of her favorite Disney movies, Frozen, and Tangled, while she and her family are currently in the middle of their favorite TV show, Castle.
Joree’s goals for the summer, in addition to riding her eight sheep, include riding faster, and learning how to tie goats. This fall, she will also start taking piano lessons, and she plans to pursue it all with her infectious enthusiasm for life.