SPRINGFIELD – Ever the strong, silent type, it was difficult to get comments from Mike Glines about his experience participating in the National High School Rodeo Championships.
A disappointed Glines was making the trip home Thursday from the championships hosted at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
The 58th annual event featured around 1,500 young people competing in bareback and bull riding; breakaway, tie-down and team roping; pole bending; saddle bronc; steer wrestling; girls' and boys' cutting and barrel racing; and goat tying categories. The competition began July 24 and runs through Sunday.
Just 18 years old, Glines of rural Potomac qualified as one of three people from Illinois in the bareback riding event. He joined 131 other bareback riders from 40 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia.
On Wednesday night, Glines' family was calm as they waited for him to ride.
His father, Gene Glines, appeared a little tense, but said he was used to the anticipation. His mother, Jeannie Glines, admitted, "I used to make myself sick over it, but I'm better now."
Mike Glines rode twice, first on Wednesday evening and then on Thursday morning. On his first ride, he failed to "mark out." To properly mark out his horse, a rider must have both heels touching the animal above the point of its shoulders when the horse makes its first jump from the chute.
His dad saw it instantly, knowing what to look for. The judge did, too, throwing his flag, officially disqualifying the ride.
"He didn't mark out," the elder Glines explained, then fell silent.
The young rider fared no better on Thursday, when he was bucked off his horse before the 8-second buzzer rang out.
Neither ride scored points, and moving on in the competition depended on an accumulation of points from those rides. The top 20 riders will move on to Saturday's finals.
"It was a nice experience and I met a lot of people," Mike Glines said. "I learned a lot from watching."
Considering there is not a place in the central Illinois area to learn his sport, his son is basically self-taught from riding in the actual rodeos, Gene Glines said. As a much younger cowboy, he'd gain what experience he could from riding calves and as he got older, larger animals. Gene Glines said the youngster has done very well just qualifying for nationals.
Mike Glines said that officials and others were helpful in pointing out what he could do to become a better rider.
"There's always something else to learn," he said. "There were a lot of good riders there."
The Glines family hits the trail again in the next couple of weeks as the new rodeo season gets under way and Mike Glines begins accumulating the points necessary to return to the nationals, which also will be in Springfield next year.