Calera and Harpersville residents to compete in International Finals Youth Rodeo

Published 4:09 pm Friday, July 7, 2017


SHAWNEE, Okla. Lauryn Hoagland of Harpersville and JT Ellison of Calera are both competing in the 25th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo held July 9-14 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. They will be participating in the world’s richest youth rodeo, hoping to win his share of more than $250,000 in prize money and championship saddles and buckles.

Hoagland and Ellison will join more than 800 of the top high school rodeo athletes from around the world for the 2017 IFYR. He is vying for prizes in tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling.

Contestants will compete in 10 events running simultaneously in three arenas throughout the week. Events include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, 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 Friday night in the championship round short go for fame and prizes.

“The International Finals Youth Rodeo was developed to provide high school athletes with a professional level rodeo,” said Chris Dunlap, assistant director of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center and International Finals Youth Rodeo. “Twenty-five years later, the IFYR is where any hopeful rodeo champion wants to be and be seen.”

Hoagland is an exceptional barrel racer and has been on horses for a long time as her family owns the Lazy H Farm in Harpersville. She has several strong finishes in competitions and will look to bring home her biggest prize yet in this event.

Ellison mainly focuses on Steer wrestling and has won many prizes doing so. He got the passion for competing in rodeo events, such as team and calf roping, from his parents Kenny and Rhonda Ellison. Both of his parents have competed in team roping for many years and passed down their love for rodeo to their son, who now has a passion for doing what his paretns do.

J.T. Ellison, a steer wrestler, will compete for the $250,000 prize package as one of the strongest youth rodeo athletes in the country. (Contributed)

The IFYR is not only home to the top high school athletes in the nation, but it is also an opportunity that allows for contestants and their families to travel, rodeo along the way and meet peers from across the country.

The International Finals Youth Rodeo, held annually since 1993, is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that presents top high school athletes with a professional rodeo. The internationally-recognized IFYR is held annually at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

The action-packed event includes hundreds of contestants vying to win more than $250,000 in prize money, competing in 10 events running simultaneously in three arenas over six days. In 2016, more than 920 contestants and their families traveled from 34 states and Australia to participate in the IFYR. For more information, visit or call (405) 275-7020.