Meet the Member: Caleb Hilliker

by Rodeo News
Caleb Hilliker, Rodeo News Meet the Member, NJHSRA
Meet the Member

Caleb Hilliker

story by Lily Weinacht

Dunning Jr. High Rodeo 2013 016

Dunning Jr. High Rodeo 2013

Caleb Hilliker has been making up for lost time this spring rodeo season. During the spring of 2013 – Caleb’s second year in the NJHSRA – he broke both bones in his ankle wrestling a steer at a branding, which then required surgery. He wasn’t cleared to run, much less jump off a horse, until October, which made for a long summer for the cowboy. But this year the 14-year-old is rodeoing hard in his events of breakaway roping and team roping as a heeler. He team ropes in the NJHSRA with his friend Ty Richardson, and Caleb says, “Team roping is my favorite event because it makes you work harder.” While he loves to let his competitive side show at rodeo, Caleb also enjoys seeing his friends and spending time with family as they’re on the road. Since he started rodeoing when he was eight, Caleb has been coached in his events by his dad, Chris Hilliker. “I look up to my dad and Cody Ohl,” says Caleb. “My dad because he helps me out a lot and he’s a good leader, and Cody Ohl because he’s a world champion and he ropes really good.”
The Hillikers live several miles outside of Gordon, Neb. Both Caleb’s parents, Chris and Julie Hilliker, compete in rodeo as well. Chris began steer wrestling in high school and Julie was barrel racing from the time she was a six, as well as showing horses. They both compete in the Nebraska State Rodeo Association (NSRA). Caleb’s 15-year-old brother, JJ, enjoys riding with his family, but he prefers wrestling over rodeo. With two teenage boys who love sports, the Hilliker family goes to practices and meets nearly year round. Their spring starts with rodeo, their summer ends with football, and their year finishes with high school wrestling. “It keeps us busy!” says Julie, Caleb and JJ’s mom. Rodeo is definitely Caleb’s favorite sport, and he competes on his two horses, Missy and Jetta. “I rope calves on my roan horse, Missy, and I have a sorrel mare, Jetta, for team roping,” he explains. The Hillikers also have four dogs and keep roping calves.
Caleb is finishing his eighth grade year at Gordon Rushville Middle School. His favorite subject is math, especially since he likes working with numbers. During summer break, Caleb plans to compete in as many rodeos as possible. He practices every day in the summer, and sometimes his parents join him as well.  But Caleb also takes time to hang out with friends and play football with them. He and his dad and brother enjoy hunting and fishing, too. However, if Caleb had a day to spend however he liked, he says, “I’d probably go with my mom to work, then come home at noon and get the horses ready and go rope.” Caleb’s mom is a message therapist, and his dad works as a mechanic for the state.
As he finishes his last year in the NJHSRA, Caleb recalls that one of his favorite rodeos in the association is the rodeo in Torrington, Wyo. “I like it because it’s an indoor barn and its big,” says Caleb. “And it’s close to home, so we don’t have to travel very far.” This summer, Caleb’s greatest goal is to qualify for the NJHFR in both of his events. Additionally, he plans to rodeo through high school and go on to college rodeo and hopefully go pro someday. He says, “I just want to go out there and rope every calf and steer!”

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