By Krista Lucas
The Rising Stars and Future Stars calf ropings are premier youth tie-down roping and breakaway roping events that give the next generation of ropers a truly professional feel in and out of the arena. Young cowboys and cowgirls travel from all across the country to these events to compete against tough competitors.
The youth ropings were the creation of Chris Neal, who has produced the events for the past 16 years. The Oklahoma cowboy not only contributes to furthering the youth of rodeo today, but he is also accomplished in the arena himself.
Neal grew up around the sport and has always known that being involved in rodeo and roping is what he wanted to do. Over several decades, he has won many accolades. Starting as a young teenager, he worked his way up through youth, amateur and professional ranks.
“I won a lot throughout youth rodeos and junior calf ropings growing up,” Neal said. “I also started going to the amateur rodeos here in Oklahoma when I was 14 years old. Then in 1995, I won the World Champion Junior Calf Roping at Smith Brothers in Denton.
“I bought my International Professional Rodeo Association card when I was a senior in high school and made the IPRA finals for the first time. I went on to make the IPRA finals six or seven times and won the average at the International Finals Rodeo in 2001.” He has also experienced success in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, in not one but two different circuits.
I bought my PRCA card in 1996 and made the Prairie Circuit Finals five times, and then later on switched my circuit to the Great Lakes circuit and made those finals five times,” Neal said.
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