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Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
A day consisting of feeding horses, school work and then returning to the barn to spend the rest of the afternoon practicing, has paid off for the 2013 Junior Southern Rodeo Association (JrSRA) senior girls all-around champ, Mikayla Almond. “Whether it’s roping the dummy, tying a goat or working with her horses, she’s always doing something to better herself,” said mom, Jeani.
At only 13 years old, Mikayla has racked up five pole bending championships within the JrSRA, along with being named the 2012 NBHA Youth World Champion 1D barrel racer. In her first year (2013) with the National Junior High School Rodeo Association, Mikayla won state titles in the pole bending, breakaway roping and goat tying, and reserve in the barrel racing. Her impressive rookie stance found her competing in Gallup, N.M., at the NJHSFR, where she returned home as the Reserve World Champion pole bender. Because of Mikayla’s incredible work ethic, in the arena and the classroom, she was one of four kids in the United States, selected to be on the Professional Choice Elite Student-Athletic Team. Meeting the criteria of a 4.0 grade point average and an all-around cowgirl, Mikayla will wear the Professional Choice patch and be rewarded with a credit line through college.
The JrSRA’s legacy resides in Mikayla’s family and their persistent rodeo heritage. “It is definitely a family thing with all of us kids carrying on the tradition,” said Mikayla of why she likes the JrSRA. The organization began with her great-grandfather (Jack Laws), who was one of whom responsible for starting the organization in the 1950s. It then passed to her grandmother (Debbie Colyer), who was crowned the 1966 JrSRA junior barrel racing champion and later served as the association secretary for 11 years. Then, to her mom, who started out in the association and continues with the SRA. While her dad (Eddie) is currently serving his second term as the JrSRA president, her older sister (Hayley Joh Knox) is a past five-time all-around champion and went on to obtaining her first of two SRA all-around titles at the age of 15. “Hayley is someone who has helped me to become an all-around cowgirl,” said Mikayla.
Competing fourfold in her third year as a senior girl in the barrels, poles, goats and breakaway, the seventh grader will push forth to win her sixth pole bending title atop her 16-year old horse (Buddy). Buddy, himself, has made a name for himself in the association, winning 10 straight titles as of 2013; carrying Hayley to five prior to being turned over to Mikayla. “He also went on to winning two state titles in the South Carolina High School Association,” explained Jeani.
Mikayla has set her sights on rodeo seasoning a five-year old (“Floozie” Ta Fame) for the barrel racing. “She has set the goal to have her ready to compete at the Junior High Nationals,” said Jeani. The futurity mare was one of two breeding rights to “Aim Ta Fame” given as a get well gift after shattering her femur in 2008 from Mike and Janell Green. “Her dad worked for the Green’s prior to becoming an independent trainer,” explained Jeani of the connection. “Three years ago, he also accepted a position with the NBHA, where he is in charge of the ground, so travels a lot.”
Mikayla got her start in the JrSRA at the age of four and through her progression and appreciation for each moment says that her grandpa (Mike Colyer) is her biggest inspiration. “He has been by my side the whole time. He helps me in all of my events and even hauls me when Dad is on the road,” she said.
A true all-around cowgirl, Mikayla says that she loves all of her events. “My Dad, Mom and Grandpa have taught me everything I know,” credited Mikayla. But if she had to pick, Mikayla says that it’s a tie between breakaway and pole bending. “I just want to place high and be on top,” she said. Early in the season, Mikayla is already sitting first in the standings in the goat tying and pole bending, third in the breakaway, sixth in the barrels and second in the all-around.