SHAWNEE — Before Justin McDaniel became a world champion in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Porum bronc rider was a two-time champ at the International Finals Youth Rodeo.
“That was the biggest stage for me at the time,” said McDaniel, 27, who participated in the rodeo as a 16- and 17-year-old. “I looked forward to going to Shawnee since I was in grade school. One of my biggest goals was to win that thing.
“I treated it like the NFR (National Finals Rodeo). That was like winning the world title to me. It meant everything in the world to me.”
Competing against the best high school cowboys from across the country, McDaniel was the IFYR bareback champion in both 2003 and 2004. He also was the IFYR all-around champion in 2004.
McDaniel said the high school rodeo prepared him for bigger things ahead. He went on to become a five-time qualifier to the National Finals Rodeo, winning the average twice at the finals and the world bareback championship in 2008.
He now travels with and rodeos against many of those same cowboys that he competed against in Shawnee a decade ago. The IFYR is a place where rodeo fans can see stars of the future.
“The best high school kids in the world go through there,” McDaniel said. “They are just a year or two away from competing professionally. I remember seeing a picture awhile back, seeing guys who were all there with me and they all turned out to be great cowboys.”
On Wednesday, McDaniel will become the eighth person inducted into the IFYR’s Hall of Fame.
McDaniel will not attend the ceremony, however, because he is chasing another gold buckle on the PRCA circuit. McDaniel received a late invitation to ride in the Calgary Stampede this week for an opportunity to win $100,000.
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