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Popko second in final District 8 Pole Bending standings


Last updated 6/7/2007 at Noon

Kerry Popko finished second in the final California High School Rodeo Association District 8 Pole Bending standings. The Fallbrook High School junior was also elected as the District 8 student vice-president for the 2007-08 CHSRA season.

A second-place go-round and a sixth-place average at the season’s final District 8 rodeo May 6 at Camp Pendleton’s Ace Bowen Rodeo Grounds gave Popko 157 points for the season, which provided a 3 1/2-point margin over third-place Carollann Scott. Melanie Miller won the District 8 championship with 204 points.

“I was, like, sweating over that one. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have it or not,” Popko said of holding on to second place in the standings.

Popko entered the final rodeo with no chance of overtaking Miller. “Melanie – she pretty much deserved to get first,” Popko said.

Miller won the first go-round with a time of 20.25 seconds while Popko was second with a run of 20.71 seconds. The season standing points include ten points for winning a go-round and nine points for finishing second.

Popko knocked down a pole in the second go-round to incur a five-second penalty and give her an official time of 25.63 seconds. That didn’t produce any points in the second go-round for her, and it gave her a two-run average (aggregate) of 46.34 seconds.

Several other cowgirls also knocked down poles in the second go-round, including Miller. “She just wanted to go all out and see what she could do,” Popko said.

The five-second penalties for other riders allowed Popko to take sixth in the average despite her own penalty, giving her an additional five points and providing the margin she needed to retain second place in the standings.

The top five finishers in each event from each district qualify for the CHSRA state finals, which this year will be held June 18-23 in Bishop. “I’m really looking forward to it,” Popko said. “I’m so excited to go. This is my third year and each year it’s gotten better.”

The top four finishers in each event at the state finals qualify for the National High School Rodeo Association national finals. Popko earned a trip to the NHSRA finals last year and hopes to repeat that achievement. “That’s where consistency plays a major key,” she said. “That’s my challenge right now.”

The May 6 rodeo also marked a change of district officers. Popko, who served as the 2006-07 District 8 queen, turned over her crown to Ramona’s Alyssa Elston. “She’ll make a great queen,” Popko said of Elston. “She’ll represent our district very well, and I’m behind her 100 percent.”

Popko noted a feeling of sadness that her reign had ended. “It had just hit me that it was over,” she said.

Popko will not be without a District 8 office for 2007-08, as she won the election for student vice-president during the business portion following the May 6 rodeo. “I’m excited,” she said. “In this new office I think I’ll have more of a voice.”

The vice-president position will be Popko’s first district office other than queen. The president, vice-president, and secretary are in charge of check-ins at each rodeo, and the student officers also seek ways to improve the district and to bring more students into high school rodeo. District 8 of the California High School Rodeo Association covers San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties and part of San Bernardino County.


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