RJ Hicks qualifies for rodeo nationals

Horizon Christian sophomore qualifies for ‘world’s largest rodeo’

rJ Hicks finished third this season in the Washington State High School Rodeo Association finals, earning him a spot in the nationals rodeo this summer in Wyoming.

rJ Hicks finished third this season in the Washington State High School Rodeo Association finals, earning him a spot in the nationals rodeo this summer in Wyoming.

For most people, 8 seconds doesn’t hold much significance; it’s a sip of coffee in the morning, a flip through the newspaper, a stroll across the street, a brief daydream. But if you’re a bullrider like RJ Hicks, 8 seconds can be the world –– the difference between success and failure, the culmination of a season’s worth of hard work, compressed into not much more than the blink of an eye.

“It’s a hard feeling to explain,” says Hicks, a Horizon Christian School sophomore. “About half the time everything goes black, it’s over in a blink and I have a hard time remembering what just happened. Everything goes so fast. There’s no time to think, just to react. I spend so much time preparing for just 8 seconds; when I actually get a ride it’s the best feeling in the world.”

As a sophomore, Hicks’ third-place finish last weekend in the Washington State High School Rodeo Association finals is a big accomplishment, and an inkling of a promising future in bullriding. The high school championship, held in Ellensburg, Wash., was the culmination of a 17-event season split between rodeos last fall and this spring. As a top-four finisher, Hicks qualifies for the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 14-20.

“Points through the season get combined, and I was in the running for the state championship last weekend,” Hicks said. “I just didn’t have a great rodeo, though. I drew some pretty good bulls and got bucked off all three times. They’re all pro bulls at that level — about 1,400 pounds — and only two guys got rides all weekend.”

At nationals, Hicks will have two chances to ride in the opening round against hundreds of other high school riders from across the U.S., Canada and Australia in what is currently labeled the world’s largest rodeo. From the first round, only the top 20 riders advance to the “short-go,” which will be nationally televised and carry prizes and thousands of dollars in college scholarships.

“It’s pretty cool to have a chance to compete in the world’s largest rodeo,” Hicks said. “It means a lot for me just to be there. As a sophomore my goal is to just go out and do the best I can because if everything goes well I’ll have two more shots at a title.”

Hicks says his ultimate goal — one he’s had since his first ride when he was 9 years old — is to be a professional bull rider. In the meantime, he’s training hard, keeping his goals realistic and riding in as many Northwest-area rodeos as he can. This weekend he’ll be in Bickleton, then he’s off to Glenwood, Goldendale, Tygh Valley, and Enumclaw.

“Between rodeos and camps he will be busy all summer,” said Rusty Hicks, RJ’s dad. “It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of work. As a parent, it’s pretty thrilling. It can be scary too; he’s had some close calls this season, but thank God he’s been injury-free.”

To help support RJ’s quest for a national championship buckle, the two are asking the community for sponsorships. Last summer Hicks finished sixth in Washington, which qualified him for the Silver State International Rodeo in Winnemucca, Nev.

“The community really stepped up and supported us last year, which was amazing,” Rusty said. “We’re hoping people can do the same this year. It’s an expensive trip and any little bit helps us get him there.”

Anyone willing to sponsor RJ is asked to contact him at 509-637-0653 or rustysguideservice@yahoo.com.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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