Mesquite’s rodeo star Chris Villanueva will be competing in the27th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo July 7-12 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Villanueva will vie for his share of more than $250,000 in prize money and championship saddles and buckles.
The John Horn High junior will join more than 750 of the top high school rodeo athletes from around the world for the 2019 IFYR. He is competing for prizes in bull riding.
“It is a true blessing to be able to compete at the IFYR in Shawnee. I am hoping to redeem myself from last year since I didn't do so hot,” Villanueva said. “I am super excited to show off my God-given talent while representing the bloomer team. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that Kim and Randy Bloomer have given me and many other high school rodeo athletes."
Contestants will compete in 10 events running simultaneously in three arenas throughout the week. Events include cowgirls barrel racing, cowgirls pole bending, cowgirls breakaway roping, cowgirls goat tying, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding. The IFYR consists of two long go-rounds and a short go. All contestants compete once in each of the long go-rounds. The top 15 averages in each event will compete in the short go finals on Friday.
“The International Finals Youth Rodeo brings phenomenal high school athletes from all over the world Shawnee, Oklahoma, each year,” said Stephanie Meiler-Gideon, interim director of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center and International Finals Youth Rodeo. “The IFYR gives these athletes the chance to compete at a professional level and allows them to showcase their rodeo skills for all to see.”
The International Finals Youth Rodeo is annual event that began in 1993 and is a nonprofit organization to offers top high school athletes with a professional rodeo. In 2018, more than 875 contestants and their families traveled from 34 states and Australia to participate in the IFYR.