Sports & Recreation

District 4 sends two junior high rodeo kids to nationals

Emery Sparling and Lilly Mendonsa compete for the title in Iowa.

This article was written by BenitoLink reporter intern Corissa King. 

After years of practice and long miles of travel two local junior high school rodeo athletes qualified for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo. Emery Sparling and Lilly Mendonsa, members of the California High School Rodeo Association District 4, are competing at the National level in Des Moines, Iowa, from June 17-26.

Sparling, who recently graduated from Spring Grove Elementary School, has been a part of District 4 for three years. This year will be her first appearance at the nationals. She is going into the competition ranked as the number two goat tyer in California with strong anticipation. 

Photo courtesy of Emery Sparling.
Emery Sparling.
Photo courtesy of Emery Sparling.

“I am most looking forward to a lot of things,” Sparling said. “For example, my goat runs. Making a run in the national arena and being announced as the number 2 goat tyer in California is going to be such an awesome experience. I also look forward to hanging out with my friends, making new friends, and the dances.” 

Mendonsa, a recent graduate from Sacred Heart Parish School, has been a part of District 4 for three years. This year will be her first appearance at the nationals. She is ranked as the number three goat tyer in California.

“I am looking forward to competing with the best in the country and I am excited to be meeting new people,” said Mendonsa. “I am also excited to travel to new places and I can’t wait to see the diversity of styles that so many states bring. Generations of my family have competed in rodeo right here in San Benito County. I am truly excited to represent all of San Benito County and California at such a large-scale event.”

BenitoLink asked Sparling and Mendonsa who they would like to thank for their support. Sparling said, “I would like to thank my family. They have supported me throughout the rodeo season then state and now nationals. They have paid for countless entry fees and so much more. I would like to thank all of the people that donated money for me to get here. Also a big thank you to Michaelson Waller for putting on an awesome taco party to fundraise for me. I would also like to thank Trista Reid for helping me be a better goat tyer. You have helped me so much and I would not have been able to do this without you!”  

Mendonsa said, “Family is a huge part of the rodeo world. I would like to thank my parents because they do so much for me. I also would like to thank my horse Martini for being awesome and trustworthy. Thank you for choosing me to help represent the company, and thank you to the National Junior High School Rodeo Association for giving me this chance, and thank you to all of my coaches for helping me grow.” 

Live broadcasts of the National Junior High Finals Rodeo performances will be on To follow Sparling and Mendonsa during their time at the nationals, visit



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Corissa King

Corissa King is a Senior at California State University, Fresno obtaining her degree in Media, Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. She was a reporter for Fresno State focus, a live student-run newscast. Corissa is very passionate about the agriculture community and the western way of life.   While attending California State University, Fresno Corissa was a student-athlete on the Division I Women's Equestrian Team. She is also an active member of the Fresno State Young Cattlemen's Association as well as Fresno State Block and Bridle.   She was Miss San Benito Rodeo 2017, Miss Gilroy Rodeo 2019 and is currently Miss Clovis Rodeo.