Tanner Vickers is living up to his family’s legacy as a young rodeo progeny.
Vickers, a seventh-grader at Jourdanton Junior High, qualified for the National Junior High Rodeo Association Finals after a fourth-place finish in Ribbon Roping at the Texas State Finals in Gonzales on Saturday, June 12.
Ribbon Roping is a mixed event consisting of a boy and a girl. One of the two is on a horse trying to rope a calf while the other is on foot trying to grab the ribbon off the calf’s tail once it’s been roped.
Vickers and his partner, Mallory Van der Eide of Spring Branch, totaled 24.71 seconds in their three runs in Gonzales to score 28 points and lock up the final qualification spot. Fifth place finished just three points behind Vickers and Van der Eide. To get to the short go, the two had to finish in the top 15 of 100 competitors from across the state during the State Finals.
Each of their three runs were under 10 seconds to set a new person record for Vickers.
“It’s very exciting just to have that experience,” Tanner said. “I was focusing on roping my calf and getting a time down on my first run and see how it played out. Then I focused on being faster more and more throughout the week.
“It was kind of shocking because I had two eights and a seven. My fastest time before that was a 10. So, it felt unbelievable that I did that and it shocked me.”
Now the duo will head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the National Finals this week. For Vickers, he hopes to eventually go professional in rodeo. Getting these chances on big stages is fanning that flame for the young Jourdanton cowboy.
“I want to go pro one day and be the best I can be,” he said. “Just getting the chance to rodeo in front of a crowd, I’m getting a feel for it, even though it’s not close to pro. But it’s still kind of the same.”
Kari remembers starting to ride horses and being introduced to rodeo around 3 years old. Her and her husband Michael, who has driven Tanner to rodeos across the state, did the same with their son and he took to rodeo like a duck in water.
“Ever since he’s been able to walk, he’s been swinging a rope,” Kari said. “So, pretty much every day of his life he’s had a rope in his hands no matter what.”
But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Vickers is making a name for himself on the junior high circuit. His older sister, Mallory, qualified for the 2021 THSRA Finals and his mother, Kari, was an NHSRA Finals qualifier in Breakaway Roping in 1998.
He’s just carrying on the family tradition.
“It’s pretty amazing. It was unbelievable to see,” Kari said. “I was so proud to see him go in there, back into the box and be able to take a deep breath to compose himself because it’s a lot of pressure. He was able to do what he knows to do at a really tense time.”
Kari said seeing both her kids continue the family legacy in rodeo is “a dream come true.”
“Seeing Tanner do that at such a young age, I think it’s going to keep him focused on going harder and practicing harder,” Kari said. “Mallory is a hard worker, too, and has her goals set. She wants to make it to nationals one day, as well.”