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Local youth to compete in National Jr. High Finals Rodeo

Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Ash Flat area youth will head to New Mexico on June 24 to compete at the world's largest junior high rodeo. The National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR) will be held in Gallup, New Mexico.

Blair Ables, 14, of Ash Flat who has been an avid rodeo competitor since the age of three, was crowned Reserve Bull Riding Champion at the State Finals rodeo in Benton May 20.

Ables competed in bull riding, chute dogging and team roping. With each entry at the rodeo, he hoped to earn a top four placement which would allow him to represent the state and Sharp County in the national event.

The NJHFR competition will feature more than 1000 contestants from 47 states. Ables and other teammates from the state will make the trip. The closest team mate from Arkansas who will join him is from Harrison.

In addition to over $75,000 in prizes, Ables will be competing for his share of over $100,000 in scholarships and the chance to be named NJHFR National Champion. The winner of the title must finish in the top 20 of two rounds before advancing to the final performance.

Ables is a seventh grader at Highland Middle School and will be transferring to Melbourne in the fall. The young cowboy said he competes in multiple events because it makes him a better all around cowboy.

Besides competing in the Arkansas Junior High School Rodeo Association, Ables competes in the Arkansas Teenage Rodeo Association and the Arkansas Cowboys Association. The athletic Ables used to compete in football at Highland, but said he left the team when his coach asked him to choose between the two. When Ables transfers, he looks forward to playing for Melbourne. Ables also plays baseball and basketball and participates in the Highland Junior High Trap Shooting Team and enjoys hunting and fishing.

Ables mother, Maria, said the rodeo competions are something the entire family can take part in, and said she always knows where her son is, since rodeoing requires hard work and training.

When asked how he felt about this accomplishment, Ables said, "It's an honor to be able to compete at the state level, but to make the national team is one of the greatest honors ever. I just want to go out there and make Arkansas, Sharp County and my school proud."

Ables thanked his sponsors, Monty McCurley, State Farm Insurance in Melbourne and Tri-County Farm and Ranch Supply.

Ables is currently seeking more help to make the costly trip to New Mexico. If anyone is interested in donating to Ables trip fund, call 870-847-7264 or 870-847-9021.

Ables is the son of Braden and Maria Ables of Ash Flat, and the grandson of the Vicky and the late Sherman Ables of Ash Flat.

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