Mitchell hits the national spotlight

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2001

First, you click your heel into the horse. Second, you fling a lasso around your head while the horse kicks into a gallop. Then, you eye the calf sprinting out of a gate. Next, you catch up with it, and attempt to throw the lasso around a head that’s about 18 inches wide. If you do that, you hop off the horse, sprint to the calf, snare it, lift it and twirl it in the air and pin it down to the ground. Finally, you slap a rope around its legs.

Sounds like it might take a little bit of time? Not for Michael Mitchell.

Mitchell, a junior at Natchez High, did all of the above in a personal-best 8.258 seconds at the National High School Rodeo Association finals in Springfield, Ill., last weekend. The time was also the best of the week in the calf-roping competition at the NHSRA event.

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“I was satisfied, but I could have been better,” said Mitchell, who also went to the nationals last year as a team calf-roper.

Mitchell finished the competition in 15th place overall.

He had two chances to showcase his talents. On the first day, Mitchell roped the calf in 15.426 seconds in muddy conditions. But on his second chance, he didn’t disappoint. The 8.258 seconds shocked his father and mother, Larry and Linda Hutchins, but not Mitchell.

“I was kind of looking forward to it,” he said, who consistently performs his event in the 8.8-second range.

“After he was long on his first, I just told him to go out and do the best you can,” said Larry. “I wasn’t expecting him to be as fast as he was, but I know he could do that.”

After Mitchell posted his time, people quickly recognized him as one of the better calf-ropers, Linda said. But his first chance brought down his overall time, landing him in 15th place.

Mitchell doesn’t have much of a break before he and his horse Daisy kick up the dirt again. The last weekend of August, Mississippi high school rodeo enthusiasts will gather in Gallman for the first state event of the season. Mitchell will participate in 19 events over the course of the next school year. Following the season, the state rodeo will be held in Jackson and then the nationals next July in Farmington, N.M. And that’s Mitchell’s goal: to make it back to nationals for a third straight year

However, in 2002, Mitchell wants to make in both the individual and team calf-roping competition.