Natchez High student excelling in rodeo

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 20, 2009

NATCHEZ — James Berry III has garnered so many rodeo trophies in his young life, his family doesn’t know where to put them all.

Berry, a 17-year-old junior at Natchez High School who has been competing in rodeo since the age of 4, has won just about every event he has entered.

He has won the Adams, Lincoln and Amite County Youth Rodeo Association titles, won the Rising Star calf roping championship in 2005, the Southwest calf roping championship in 2008, the Real Cowboy Association 2008 calf roping championship and won the Real Cowboy Association 15 and under breakaway championship four years in a row.

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“I can’t name all the stuff he’s won,” Berry’s father, James Berry Jr. said. “It’s unreal. He’s got over 150 buckles and eight saddles (given to the champion of the rodeo event).”

Berry recently won the Mississippi High School Rodeo Association state finals, which guaranteed him a spot in the national competition in Farmington, N.M. from July 19-24.

Berry got his interest in rodeo from his father, who helped teach him and still works with him in practice.

“I’ve got him interested in participating in (rodeo),” the elder Berry said. “I’m real proud of what he’s accomplished.”

Berry started out at a young age roping goats and advanced to calves pretty quickly.

“I’ve always been pretty good,” Berry said. “I’ve worked at it. I spend almost every day in the practice pen for three or four hours.”

Berry said he has roped and tied a calf as quickly as 7.6 seconds, which starts the instant the horse leaves the gate and stops when the calf is tied and brought to the ground.

“It takes a lot of hard work and practice,” Berry said. “You’ve got to work hard at being consistent. You’ve got to have a good horse and be accurate with the rope and tie.”

Berry’s success has him thinking about a professional rodeo career once he finishes his schooling.

“It’s something that I want to continue,” Berry said. “I am looking at going into the pro ranks and succeeding there.”