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Giddyup, Lil' Tigers

June 10, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

When Imperial High School student Cori Archibek prepares to compete in an event, she doesn't worry about the last event she competed in or what she'll be doing in her next event. Instead, she takes each event moment by moment.

She has to.

In the world of rodeo, one must be focused on the task at hand. On June 17 in Quincy, the 18-year-old will be as dialed in as she's ever been as she takes one last shot at the California High School Rodeo Association finals.

Joining Archibek will be fellow Imperial High student Dillon Foster, also 18.

Two of only a handful of local high school rodeo athletes in the Imperial Valley, the pair has risen above their competition in District 8, which covers Southern California, and qualified to compete in the state finals with performances at CHSRA events throughout the school year.

"I've always been involved in sports all my life and competing in rodeo is just something that I really love. It just gives me a chance to compete in something I love," said Archibek, who will compete in the barrel racing, pole bending and breakaway events.


"When you're out there competing, all you can do is take it moment by moment and just see where it goes," she said.

This year's state finals will be the third for Archibek. She's come up short of the national rodeo in her previous attempts.

In the state competition, each event begins with about 45 competitors, who compete in their events for three rounds. After the third round, the field is cut to 15 competitors. The 15 compete one last time in the short round and try to finish in the top four spots to earn a trip to nationals.

Archibek has gotten as far as the short round, qualifying in barrel racing and goat tying.

As impressive as Archibek's achievements are, Foster's are slightly better.

A five-time District 8 champion, Foster has qualified for the state competition all four years in high school and has qualified for the short round two of the last three times he's competed at state.

"Everything you worked for the whole year comes down to this," said Foster, who will be competing in calf roping and team roping with Manuel Gonzalez from Norco. "And this is our last chance at this. … This is our last time competing at state.

"In previous years it really didn't matter how you did because you always had next year. You just say to yourself, ‘It's all right, I'll do better next year,'" said Foster. "But now, there is no next year. This is it right here."

No matter how Foster and Archibek do at the state finals, they plan to continue in rodeo.

Both have agreed to continue their rodeo careers in college. Archibek will attend the University of Montana-Western in Dillon, Mont., and Foster will compete at Cal Poly Pomona. Both will attend school on rodeo scholarships.

Still, thoughts of college seem too far off when the state finals are at hand.

"I'm really looking forward to going to state. But more than anything, I just wanna go to nationals," said Archibek. "I think, looking at everything, I feel that I have a really good chance at doing well at state."

One of the main reasons Archibek likes her chances is because of her partner in competitions, her horse, Whitey.

"Whitey is just awesome. He has really amazed people with what he's done. People see him and know what he's done and just know he's awesome," said Archibek.

She also credited her coaches, Ross and Kristin Gomez, for her success and said they have taught her everything she knows about rodeo competition.

While Archibek and Foster both have the national competition in their sights, what happens at state will not take away from what they have accomplished.

What's more, they go into state knowing they will participate in the competition not just representing District 8 but also the Imperial Valley.

"It's just me and Cori from the Valley and that puts some pressure on us," said Foster. "We wanna do really good because it's the last time we're competing, but we also wanna do good because we're representing the Valley. For me, I'm going to go in there and try to put Imperial on the map."

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