This year’s North Texas High School Rodeo Association all-around champions represent the two types of people who compete in rodeo.
David Dougherty, 17, a Calisburg junior who won the 2015 boy’s all-around title, represents the champion rodeo cowboy who grew up in ranching.
Ashleigh Young, 18, a Mansfield Timberview senior who clinched the girl’s all-around title, represents the competitor who grew up with no ranching background, but learned to ride a horse and then became highly competitive in rodeo.
Dougherty also clinched the 2015 calf roping and ribbon roping titles as the North Texas High School Finals concluded its three-day run Sunday night at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum.
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Young also clinched the goat tying and the walk up goat tying titles.
Chase Wilson of Decatur clinched the steer wrestling title, two decades after his father, Rick, snared the NTHSRA’s chute dogging title. Wilson also helped Decatur clinch the team title.
Other 2015 NTHSRA champions were Nicholas Farino, Maypearl, bareback riding; Madisen Goforth, North Hills Private School, break-away roping; Ethan Hilliard, Denton, saddle bronc riding; Carolyn Spear, Decatur, steer undecorating; Cody Schulz, Alvarado, team roping heading; Ty Meals, Paradise, team roping heeling; Denielle Diviney, Aubrey, barrel racing; Grady Payne, Northwest, chute dogging; Alexis Barfield, Northwest, pole bending; Brody Yeary, Brock, bull riding; Tanner Baker, Alvord, rookie cowboy; and Mikayla Cox, rookie cowgirl.
Dougherty said he has been roping since he can remember. His father, John, who raised his son around cattle ranching, said Dougherty started when was around five.
Dougherty said being reared around cattle ranching has played a huge role in helping him become a prize winning roper.
“I learned to know horses, how to handle a rope and how to read cattle and to know cattle,” Dougherty said. “When you know how to read cattle, you know what they’re going to do before they do it. You know how to handle them and how to cut them off.”
Dougherty also wins because he practices hard.
“I get home from school at 3:30 and I rope until we get done,” he said. “It could be midnight or it could be when it gets dark.”
Dougherty said it was a huge honor to win the NTHSRA titles because the Lone Star State has multitudes of tough competitors.
“Texas is the hardest state to win anything in rodeo, from bull riding to goat tying,” Dougherty said “That’s because it’s Texas. Everybody is more cowboy in Texas.”
Unlike Dougherty, Young did not grow up in either a ranching or a family with a rodeo background. She said she was drawn to horseback riding at 12 after her brother, Preston, began taking riding lessons.
By the time she was a high school freshman, Young was competing in barrel racing. She also learned how to compete in the traditional women’s event of goat tying as a freshman.
“I came to the rodeo as a barrel racer, and I watched goat tying,” she said. “My dad told me that I was very athletic and should try it for the fun of it. I just fell in love with it. I like the way that I can just get off a horse and I can just feel free and do my own thing by myself.”
Like Dougherty, Young said one reason she wins is because she practices hard.
“It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of practice, a lot of repetition,” she said. “Everything has to be consistent. It’s also important to keep a good head and just have fun.”