Area students compete at state rodeo finals, with two advancing to nationals

The Texas High School Rodeo Association State Finals wrapped up last Saturday in Abilene, with several local students going up against the best in the state.

For two of these students, the focus has now shifted toward competing on the national stage.

Brady Hooks of Pine Prairie and Savanna Jensen of Huntsville are set to represent the area at National High School Finals Rodeo, which is scheduled for July 15-21 in Rock Springs, Wyoming. It will be the first trip to nationals for each.

In addition to Hooks and Jensen, other local students — from Huntsville, New Waverly and Richards — who competed at the state finals include: Lacy Bruening, Gatlin Peck, Josie McMahon, Boyd Hanagriff, McKinley Yargo, Chance Strange, Bradlee Miller, Rhody Niles, Grace Jackson and Taylor Lawson.

Brady followed in his brother Riley’s footsteps, winning a state title in trap shooting to clinch a trip to nationals. A recent high school graduate, he’s made the most of his final run at this level.

“With it being his last year, he was excited to win,” said Brady’s father John Hooks. “It couldn’t be any better to round it out with a win.”

Savannah also has a family connection to the sport.

The soon-to-be junior will compete in the highly competitive barrel racing, an event for which her grandmother Linda Hooks has been an NFR reserve world champion. Savannah, who placed third to qualify for state, will have an added advantage when she arrives in Wyoming. She is spending the weeks leading up to nationals in Hesperia, California, where she is training with her grandmother.

“She rode her grandmother's horse in the barrel racing at state finals,” said Savannah’s mother, Becky Jensen. “It was really special. My mother was there, and we had all the family there. For her to do so well is really exciting.”

The National High School Finals Rodeo, which will feature approximately 1,500 contestants from the United States, Canada and Australia, has been dubbed the “World’s Largest Rodeo.”