Local youngsters in Gymkhana

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A couple of races will go down to the wire in the Mountainair Gymkhana Rodeo series' final day of competition on Sunday at the J.P. Helms Rodeo Grounds.

Willard's Fallon Goemmer and Estancia's Natalio Hernandez, respectively in the girls' and boys' 7- to 10-year-old all-around, have razor-thin advantages over their second-place opponents after five rodeos in the six-rodeo competition that started in April. The fifth rodeo took place July 8.

Goemmer, fifth in 7-10 last year, leads Stanley's Mckinzee Shiver, the 6-and-under champion in 2011, 128-127.

"I just hope I have a good rodeo (Sunday)," said Goemmer, a home-schooled sixth-grader-to-be.

Goemmer said she started the season using one horse.

"But I wound up using two or three," she said. "My first horse, she went wacko on me so I had to go to another horse."

Shiver, a spunky fireball of a Moriarty Elementary School rising third-grader, is looking for the upset against the older girls in her age group.

"I like to kick and spur. I like the competition," she said. "I get to ride and kick, and I get to get first out there."

Hernandez, the 7-10 reserve champion last year, has a slim 72-71 lead over Kade Goemmer, Fallon's brother, in the boys' race. Hernandez, who leaped into first place after trailing in third following the fourth rodeo, also must contend with Magdalena's Caleb Griego, currently in third and just two points behind Hernandez.

"I'm doing good, I think," said Hernandez, an Estancia Elementary fourth-grader-to-be. "I'm doing better times."

Sunday's rodeo will also be Gymkhana's annual Tough Enough To Wear Pink Day. Contestants and spectators, even horses, are urged to wear pink to raise awareness for the fight against cancer.

Last year, MGR raised $1,000 for the battle. The money was given to Relay for Life Estancia Valley, which this year will be held on Aug. 3 and 4, according to the relay's coordinator, Brenda Smythe.

All this will happen, the competition and the fundraiser, that is, if the latest outbreak of vesicular stomatitis, a viral disease that primarily affects horses, cattle and pigs, doesn't throw a wrench into the works.

The Moriarty FFA Alumni team-roping event that had been scheduled for Saturday at Heritage Arena, was canceled because the supporting rough stock was quarantined in San Miguel County due to VS, said Lilissa Williams, vice president of the alumni organization. She said the FFA group hopes to restart the team-roping series on Aug. 25.

Denise Smythe, Gymkhana's secretary, said Randol Riley, a state livestock inspector, checked the arriving horses for signs of the disease at the gate prior to their entry into the Helms rodeo grounds during the July 8 Gymkhana. Riley said Monday that he hadn't yet coordinated with Lonnie Greene, the MGR president, but he expects he will be doing the same service for the rodeo this weekend.

If the rodeo does go on as expected, the girls will probably once again best the boys after all is said and done Sunday. The girls, who directly compete against the boys for points in the all-around timed events at each MGR rodeo, lead in every age division.

Greene said he hasn't a clue why the cowgirls regularly outdo the cowboys in events like barrels, poles, flags and goat tying.

"The girls must pay more attention, or ride their horses more," he said. "But I really don't know why."

Estancia's Brina Riley has a comfortable 151-132 lead over Jessi Jo Gonzales of Mountainair in the 15-18 girls division. In 2011, Riley placed second in the 11-14 group, and Gonzales was fourth in 15-18.

"I was doing OK until the last few rodeos," said Gonzales, a Mountainair High junior-to-be. "But me and my horse have been off lately."

Riley, who will be a junior at Estancia High, said she got off to a slow start because "I was running a young horse in barrels and poles," but she got it together toward midseason.

Gonzales said it's not impossible for her to catch Riley, but it's not likely.

"She's the only one in our age group who ropes," Gonzales said. "Whenever she ropes a calf, she's the only one that gets points in that."

The other female leaders are Magdalena's Kye Saulsberry with 166 points in the 6-and-under category, and Albuquerque's Bianca Sauceda, with 149 in 11-14. Sauceda is the reigning 11-14 champion.

Tijeras' Katie Albrycht, fourth last year, is in third in the 11-14 girls group. The Moriarty High rising freshman trails Sauceda by 30 points.

"I feel like I'm doing really well, especially since it's my first year with a new horse," Albrycht said of Prince, her 11-year-old gelding tiger horse, an appaloosa-Tennessee walking horse mix. "He's awesome, faster, more competitive than my older horse."

Wilse Corliss, with 96 points, is out in front of Belen's Stran Thompson by 24 points in the 11-14 boys division. Corliss finished second last year.

"At the beginning of the year, I was using my white horse, Crisco," said Corliss, an EHS freshman-to-be. "But she hurt a tendon. Now, I'm using (a borrowed) red horse."

It's not out of the question that Calvin Autrey might be able to catch Elliot Fraiser of Los Lunas in the 6U boys group. Fraiser leads 144 to 135.

Autrey, a 4-foot, 47-pound Estancia Elementary first-grader-to-be, mostly rides the 26-year-old Socks. He was the 6U series champion for the 2011 Old Timers Day/Torrance County Junior Rodeo series, and he was the reserve champ at last year's Capitan series.

Calvin's mother, Lori Autrey, said MGR compares favorably with other junior competitions.

"It's really well run," she said. "And it's for the kids. The kids have a good time at Gymkhana. It's a fun day."

In the mutton bustin' campaign, Moriarty's Tristan Pebley has a commanding 30-point lead over his nonscoring foes. He's a 40-pound, 4-year-old pre-schooler.

Mountainair's Jason Padilla, 9-11 junior steer riding, and Edgewood's Hunter Salter, 12-14 senior steer riding, are the only cowpokes in their categories to have scored any points. Caleb Griego, 20 points, has a 10-point lead over his brother, Cade, in 6-9 calf riding.