Okeechobee teen wins national rodeo championship

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee’s own McKenna Hickson won the world championship in the 19-and-under girls breakaway roping category at the junior National Finals Rodeo (NFR) held in Las Vegas from Dec. 11 through Dec. 16.

McKenna won with a time of 2.29, while second place went to Jordi Edens of Gatesville, Texas with a time of 2.73.

Kay Hickson, McKenna’s mother, is proud of her daughter and thankful to the sponsors who helped along the way to the championship.

Mckenna Hickson ropes a calf during the Junior NFR World Championship held in Las Vegas, Nev. Special to the Okeechobee News.

“McKenna’s horse is from Jason Hanchey here in Okeechobee, said Mrs. Hickson. “Jason has been McKennas’s coach and mentor for years now. She probably ropes with him every single day.”

Jason Hanchey had spent years as the resident horse trainer for Oscar Lewis “Buck” Daniel, and is the older brother of 2013 world champion tie down roper Shane Hanchey.

“Jason has been a huge help,” explained McKenna. “I’ve been training with him for five years, I’ve gained a lot of experience and dramatically improved my roping during that time.”

Two and a half weeks before her high school rodeo season was set to begin, McKenna’s horse passed away leaving her with no option to compete that year. Jason stepped up and offered McKenna his horse Tootles, a horse he was riding and competing in pro rodeos with.

“As soon as I started riding Tootles,” said McKenna, “we just clicked.”

This is McKenna Hickson, and her horse Tootles, shortly after winning the Junior NFR World Championship in 19-and-under breakaway on Dec. 16. Special to the Okeechobee News.

McKenna was one of the first competitors to run during the 19-and-under breakaway, which meant she had to sit and wait to see if her time of 2.29 would hold up.

“It was a little nerve wracking,” McKenna explained in a interview given to florodeo.com after winning the championship. “I saw Jordi have a good run, it kind of put a little bit of pressure on me. But I knew I went out there and did the best I could do.”

McKenna and her parents would like to thank Josh Harvey at the Okeechobee Veterinary Hospital for keeping the horses healthy, as well as Timey Brand clothing. McKenna would also like to thank all of her Florida friends who were cheering for her.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.