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One Final Go-Round

Glenwood cowgirls hopes to bring home national title in breakaway roping

Shayne Arnold of Glenwood has one more rodeo before the sun sets on a standout four-year high school career.

The 19-year-old and her parents, Ed and Terry, and her horse and partner of four years, Amos, left Glenwood last Friday morning for Farmington, N.M. -- a 1,200-mile, 25-hour trek -- which is where the 54th annual National High School Finals Rodeo is being held July 22-28.

It's the second consecutive national finals rodeo for Arnold, who graduated last month from Glenwood High School and plans to attend Walla Walla Community College in the fall on a rodeo scholarship.

She'll be competing in breakaway roping, a timed event, for Washington's 50-member team. Her teammates include the state's 2002 All-Around Cowgirl, Kayde Jo Davenport of Goldendale High School, who qualified for the national finals in five events.

Arnold and Amos placed third in breakaway roping at the state finals rodeo this spring -- one spot back of Davenport -- to earn a second trip to the national finals. (The top four in each event qualify for the national finals.)

After two straight trips to the consolation finals in Fallon, Nev., Arnold made it to her first national finals in 2001.

She went as state champion in breakaway to the finals in Springfield, Ill., where she placed third in her bracket but didn't figure in the final standings.

That's something she wants to change this time around.

"My goal is to win, to bring home a national championship, I hope," Arnold said last Thursday.

Roping with precision and speed is something that runs in the Arnold family.

Paterfamilias Ed is an accomplished roper, as is Arnold's big brother Casey, who appeared in two national finals rodeos before moving up to the collegiate circuit.

Arnold said she learned the ropes of roping from her dad, whom she gives credit to for much of her success. "I had a good teacher," she noted.

She'll apply the education she received during eight years of competitive roping this week during the 2002 national finals -- the world's largest rodeo -- which will feature more than 1,500 competitors from 39 states, four Canadian provinces and all of Australia.

Contestants will be vying for more than $125,000 in prizes and $170,000 in college scholarships, and the chance to become National High School Rodeo champion in their chosen events.

Arnold must finish in the top 20 after two go-rounds of roping to advance to Sunday's final championship performance and have a shot at the breakaway title.

She was scheduled to compete in her first go-round on Wednesday, and her second go-round on Thursday.

To prepare for the pressure that comes with competing against other topnotch ropers, Arnold said she'd been practicing regularly to hone her technique as well as working on her mental approach.

"It's pretty much a mental thing, so I've got to be mentally prepared," she noted. "I've got to be able to block out whatever anybody else does, not worry about it, and go out and do the best job I can with the draw I get."

Performing under pressure is nothing new to Arnold, however.

At the state finals in 2001, she unseated a two-time state champion to claim her one and only state title.

Right now, winning that honor ranks as her fondest memory.

But accomplishing the feat at the national level would replace that as her spotlight moment and redeem what Arnold described as a disappointing final high school rodeo season -- a season in which she won just one breakaway competition.

"I had a bad year," she reflected. "Sometimes I tried too hard and made some dumb mistakes. Hopefully those are all behind me."

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