Big Spring’s Canyon Atkinson, a seventh grade student and son of Shannon and Belinda Crenshaw, has been riding bulls since he was seven years old. Atkinson recently qualified for the world’s largest junior rodeo, where he will compete against the best in the world.
The National Junior High Finals Rodeo will take place in Gallup, N.M., beginning June 23. Atkinson will join about 2,000 other young buckaroos at the yearly event, which features participants from 41 U.S. States, five Canadian provinces and Australia.
More than $75,000 in prizes and $100,000 in scholarship funds will be awarded, which Atkinson will be vying for along with his peers.
“It’s a great honor,” Crenshaw said of his son. “Canyon’s worked real hard every day to get to where he’s at. We’re very proud of the accomplishments he’s had. Eventually, his goal is to be on the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) — the granddaddy of bull riding.”
The road to the NJHFR isn’t an easy one to hoe. Atkinson, in addition to his duties as a student and son, also competes in more than 50 rodeo events per year. A 2013 state champion, the 13-year old will be one of just four junior bull riders representing Texas in Gallup.
Atkinson has won seven saddles and at least 60 buckles since he began riding.
To earn the title of NJHFR champion, Atkinson must qualify in the Top 20 in the first round, then move on to the second where he will face the other finalists in his age bracket. Each contestant will ride three times, with the average being recorded as the final score.
Saturday’s championship round will be televised nationally on RFD-TV. Live broadcasts will also air on NHSRATV.com. Performance times are slated for 7 p.m. on June 23, with 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. performances each day thereafter.