May 23, 2003 at 10:20 a.m.
Most young queen candidates would not be aware of the responsibilities they assume when they are crowned Miss Minnesota High School Rodeo Queen, June 15, at Hugo’s Dead Broke Arena. Eryn will be there to pass the crown and well intentioned advice, but from there it’s a learning experience.
Kuntz, a 17-year-old junior at Chisago Lakes High School, has a lot of family support behind her 2002-2003 queen status. Her mother, Patty, is the Minnesota Secretary for High School Rodeo and has worked 25 years for JF Pro Rodeo. Her dad, Mike, serves as a Region 3 Director for High School Rodeo. Brother Steve was 2002 Reserve champion Calf Roper in Minnesota. It takes a family to put it all together.
Kuntz competes in a number of rodeo events: barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping as a header. She rides some good horses. The mare, from Oklahoma, is used for barrels and poles and an 8-year-old gelding is her roping horse. The daily work with the horses is important to get them ready for the season.
Most high school rodeos are weekend events. Kuntz’s parents attend many of the rodeos but on occasion, the driving is left to her. She has learned to handle the rig, horses and equipment on her own.
Along with the long hours of driving, riding and caring for horses, there’s the expense of the sport. Entry fees can run $80 for five events. Then there is gas, feed for horses, and other horse related expenses such as vet, farrier, etc. The annual fee for a High School Rodeo card is $120. Insurance is handled by the National High School Rodeo.
Minnesota Queen competitors only need a minimum of outfit changes. They have a dressy outfit for finals plus something special for the horsemanship contest. But when they get to the big national contest, held in July, then the girls borrow a lot of different outfits from previous queens or friends who have something special to lend. Their schedules and involvement on a national level for that week can tax even the most energetic young competitor. Last year Kuntz placed in the top 24 in horsemanship and grand entry.
Her favorite rodeo personality is Charmayne James, a nationally known barrel racer in PRCA circuits. James and her great horse, Scamper, have made a remarkable comeback and they are favorites at many rodeos.
College is next and Kuntz is considering several, including Oklahoma and Wyoming, where they have very active college rodeo teams. She started showing horses in Western Pleasure classes for 10 years before she took up rodeo. The family interest in rodeo gave her added impetus to compete in timed rodeo events.
The job of recruiting or encouraging other young girls to compete for the state title is one of the tasks the outgoing queen has to face. Eryn was one of eight contestants last year when she ran for queen. She hopes a good number of girls will show interest this year for the prestigious title.
Being the Minnesota Queen has many rewarding moments. A number of these occasions make all the work worthwhile. Helping others is part of the game. Rodeo is all about sportsmanship, courtesy and love of the sport. Hats off to our 2002-2003 High School Rodeo Queen Eryn Kuntz.