Meet the Member Wes Bray
story by Lily Weinacht Wes Bray clinched his goal for his final season of high school rodeo, finishing in the top 20 in the nation […]
story by Lily Weinacht
DeLani Cunningham jumped into the rodeo world as a child, following after her parents, who both rodeoed, and she currently competes in the WHSRA in goat tying, breakaway roping, and team roping as a header. This season, she took her favorite sport to another level when she decided to run for Miss Wyoming High School Rodeo Queen. While the 17 year old from Sheridan, Wyoming, has served on the WHSRA youth board and is currently the youth board president, this was her first time competing in a rodeo queen contest — and she made her decision just three days before the deadline to enter. “I wanted to represent Wyoming in a different way,” says DeLani. “I really wanted to showcase Wyoming’s talent in the sense that Wyoming is a very competitive state, and I wanted to change the stereotype that rodeo queens are sometimes not very competitive in their events.”
With less than a month to prepare for her first competition, DeLani says her mom helped make the undertaking possible. “She helped me find outfits and she helped me practice my speech a lot and get confidence in speaking. Before this, I was scared to speak in public, so this has been a life-changing experience because I’m not scared to speak in public anymore.” Along with representing her state, DeLani has also helped influence more young ladies to run for rodeo queen positions in the state, which is a highlight of her year. “I’m glad I did it. It’s a lot of work, and it’s hard on the pocketbook, but it’s a very good experience.”
While DeLani doesn’t necessarily plan to run for future rodeo queen titles, she does plan to rodeo in college, and she’s currently tied for third place in the WHSRA goat tying standings. “I don’t think I could ever give rodeo up. It’s one of those things I’ve grown up with, and it’s a part of my DNA. Goat tying is my favorite for sure. I like the adrenaline rush I get, and it happens so fast. Some people don’t like it because it’s hard on your body, but it’s a sacrifice I make to do what I love.” DeLani also competes in the NLBRA in the same three events as high school, and she practices several times a week through the winter. “I definitely look up to my family, and I went to a breakaway clinic last year and met Bill Reynolds, Bailey Young, and Jerry Means. They’re all calf ropers, and they’ve helped me excel in my abilities. I’m very thankful for them, and I usually go over once a week and rope with them.”
DeLani also enjoys practicing with her 15-year-old sister, Bailey, who competes in the WHSRA as well. Their parents, Casey and Jessie, help them in the practice pen, and DeLani ties goats in the garage in the winter. She rides a black gelding named Deuce in the team roping, and trained her goat horse, Harley, before sending her to Bailey Young to train for breakaway roping. “Harley is such a quick learner, and I don’t know if I would be where I am without her. Before Harley, I used Bill Reynolds’ and Jerry Means’ horses for breakaway, and without them letting me borrow their horses, I don’t know where I’d be!”
DeLani graduated from Big Horn High School in December with 66 college credits already under her belt. “All my prerequisites are done for the nursing program, so this spring I’ll be putting in for the program I want to attend. I’m looking at colleges that will give me a scholarship so I can college rodeo and do the nursing program,” says DeLani, who is also working to qualify for the NHSFR. “I’m working on being mentally confident this season. I know I have the ability, I just need to let my body do it.”
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