Monterey&8217;s Morgan sets sights on state title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Monterey&8212;True, Madison Morgan was not born with a set of spurs and boots on, but it did not take him long to find his first pair. And Friday at the Louisiana High School Rodeo Finals in Gonzales, the 14-year-old Monterey native is out to prove he was born to ride.

With a 30 plus point lead over the rest of the field Morgan, a freshman at Monterey High School, has all but hog-tied the competition this year en route to becoming the rookie all-around cowboy points leader. Barring an abysmal performance in this week&8217;s state finals, Madison will capture the title given annually to the state&8217;s best freshman cowboy.

&8220;It&8217;s not mine yet, I have to go out there and perform the way I&8217;m capable of,&8221; Morgan said. &8220;If I really mess up, I could lose it, but I can&8217;t think like that. If your not totally focused on what you have to do, that is where you will make your mistakes.&8221;

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In addition to the rookie title, Madison has his eyes set on an even bigger prize; he said he wants to make it to the national high school rodeo finals. Morgan&8217;s best opportunity to achieve that goal will be in the steer wrestling event, where he currently ranks fifth overall in the state. To get to nationals he will need to finish in the top four in the state finals, and that means beating out some pretty stiff, yet familiar competition.

&8220;Right now there are about 10 of us, who all could finish in that top four,&8221; Morgan said. &8220;I&8217;ve gone up against every one of those guys at some point or another this year, and they are all very good.&8221;

Morgan said he does not mind that steer wrestling boasts some of the stiffest competition in this year&8217;s rodeo &8212; rather he relishes it.

&8220;Steer wrestling or &8216;bull-dogging&8217; provides you with a rush that you just can&8217;t get anywhere else,&8221; Morgan said. &8220;There&8217;s nothing like jumping of a horse that&8217;s going 30 miles per hour and trying to take down a 500 pound steer. It&8217;s pretty intense.&8221;

Intense is a good way to describe the competitive side of Morgan, and it is that side that has fueled him to a number of early successes in the sport.

In 2005, he won the state championship in the Wrangler division, which is comprised of the top eighth-grade or younger cowboys. At age 12, Morgan and his father John won the United States Team Roping Championship&8217;s Florida Panhandle Classic, an event open to all ages, but not one customarily won by a team featuring a 12-year-old.

&8220;That was one of my proudest moments,&8221; John Morgan said. &8220;I wear the buckle we won there nearly every day, in fact, I have it on right now.&8221;

John, who had his own successes in competitive rodeo, said he expects Madison to do very well in the state finals, and that his son has a good shot at making it to nationals.

&8220;I would be surprised if he doesn&8217;t finish in that top four,&8221; Morgan said.

For Madison, making the top four in steer wrestling would mean the culmination of a lot of hard work.

&8220;I feel pretty good about my chances,&8221; Morgan said. &8220;I have been training pretty hard for this rodeo. I have a good horse, and I expect to finish in that top four.

&8220;I don&8217;t know what making it to nationals my freshman year would mean to me, but I have to think it would be pretty cool.&8221;