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Meet the Member Barnett Family
story by Michele Toberer
For the Barnetts of Oakley, Kansas, the Kansas High School Rodeo Association is a source of comradery, competition, and tradition in the family. Although Kevin, a feed truck salesman for Midwest Mixer Services LLC, and Kerie Barnett, a home daycare provider, never competed in rodeo themselves, their oldest son, Tristen, 23, started the family off in the KHSRA while he was competing as a team roper and cutter, and their three younger children are now members of the association as well. In the high school division, they have 18-year-old Kensley competing as a cutter, and 15-year-old Konner, competing as a team roper. The youngest Barnett, Kutler is competing as a rough stock rider in the KJHSRA. The family couldn’t be happier to be raising their family in rodeo.
Kensley is enjoying her final year with the KHSRA, as a senior in the Manhattan Virtual Academy, and looks forward to graduating so that she can go on to college at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. “The school is an hour away, but as a freshman you must live on campus, so I’ll be moving there next year. I’ll put rodeo aside for a little while so I can focus on my studies, and I’ll continue cutting after I get my degree. I’d like to go into radiology and diagnostic imagery.” Since starting with the KJHSRA as a 6th grader, Kensley has competed in multiple events, but has focused on cutting the last couple years. She competes on her 11-year-old red roan gelding, PePtos Lucky Jewel, also known as Charlie. “He’s a goofy, spoiled horse with a huge personality; but he does a great job for me. I love cutting horses, and love the adrenaline rush I get from showing them.” Kensley has trained with James Davis the past year and appreciates the help he has given her in the cutting pen. Kensley and Charlie had great success at the national high school finals the past two seasons, finishing in 8th place her sophomore year, and last year they finished in 11th place in the NHSFR world competition.
Konner is a freshman at Oakley High School where he is an active member of the National FFA Organization and loves his ag classes. He has been rodeoing with the KHSRA since he was in 6th grade, and spent his junior high years competing in chute dogging, team roping, and shooting sports. He qualified for the junior high national finals his 7th and 8th grade seasons. Moving into the high school ranks this year, Konner is competing as a heeler on his 10-year-old bay gelding, Doc, for partner, Rylan Hays. He enjoys team roping and appreciates the help he gets from his dad and older brother, Tristen “I like being a part of the KHSRA because it gives us good people to rope and compete with.” Konner works at a feed lot, helping feed and doctor cattle. He enjoys hunting when he has free time and would like to become a welder in the future.
The only roughie in the bunch, Kutler, is in his 7th grade year at Oakley Middle School and competes in bareback steers and bull riding in the KJHSRA. He enjoys his math classes at school, and plays basketball, football, and track for the Oakley Plainsmen. Last year, during his first year with the KJHSRA, Kutler tried saddlebronc steer riding and bull riding, and qualified for the national finals in both events. “I didn’t have much luck in South Dakota; I came off my second saddlebronc steer and broke my collarbone. I just started riding bareback this year but so far, it’s become my favorite event. I attended the Garden City Community College Rodeo Team’s bronc riding school in Garden City, Kansas, where Jess Pope and Cort Scheer wee there teaching; I learned a lot at the clinic and am hoping to go back this year.” Kutler enjoys riding 4-wheelers for fun and would like to go into diesel mechanics one day for a living as well as raising horses and cattle. For now, he is enjoying competing in the KJHSRA and following in the rodeo footsteps of his older sister and brothers.