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 […]
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Meet the Member – Cricket Cunningham
story by Sierra Spratt
Seventeen-year-old Cricket Cunningham is an upcoming senior at Big Horn High School in Sheridan, Wyo., where she has lived her entire life. She starting her rodeo career at the remarkable age of three, participating in the barrel racing, pole bending and modified goat tying. “It was a lot easier for me I guess since I rode every single day,” she says. The Cunninghams own a ranch in Sheridan that raises and sells roping steers and rope horses. The family often puts on team roping’s at their house and use the connection to break in their stock before they’re released on the market.
As she grew up, Cricket picked up breakaway and team roping. When it comes to her favorite, “it’s a toss up between breakaway and goats,” she says. Cricket has always had a special admiration in goat tying because of the intense competition and loves the speed off the event. “Especially getting off fast,” she describes. Her mount for the two events, a ten-year-old gelding named Gambler, is also the frontrunner when it comes to her favorite horse. “But I like them all!” she makes sure to add, of the additional 30 horses on the ranch.
Her mom, Marcy, and dad, Cody, who represented Sheridan College at the college rodeos in their youth, taught Cricket everything she knows and supported her along the way as well as her older sister, Cashlee, who is going to be a junior at Sheridan College this next year.
Cricket wishes to go to college in Arizona after years of winter visits to her grandfather, Dale Cunningham, who lives and team ropes in Cave Creek, Ariz. “I want to go to a university there,” she explains, “but for my first year I’ll probably go to Sheridan or Gillette and college rodeo.” Following that, nursing school is her next step. She thinks it will lead to a good future but mainly wishes to help people.
Cricket trains rope and barrel horses in her off time, as well as many track events that she’s competed in since her freshman year of high school. This includes the 100, 200, and 400 meter dash and the 4by4 and 4b1 relay. She recently started training an eight-year-old breakaway horse. “He’s really coming along,” she says. She hopes to bring him out next season as well as her barrel horse for the third year in a row, Alto. She started him in barrels a couple of years ago and is very optimistic for his future. Last season at the Douglas high school rodeo she placed fourth on him with a time of 18.3 in barrels. It’s what comes to mind when she recalls her most exciting feat in rodeo. “I just really felt like I accomplished something with that win,” she says.
She came back in the short round at state finals in Douglas this last year in the goat tying at fourth place, but unfortunately didn’t end up in the top four to qualify for Nationals. She hasn’t made it to the finals yet. “But I hope that this year is the year,” she says. The cowgirl plans on practicing more and attempting to calm the nerves before each event. She only tries to focus on what she needs to do and nothing more. Cricket really enjoys the Wyoming high school rodeos, specifically the people and the competition. She tries to practice an event or two every single day, knowing that’s what it takes to be competitive. All Cricket can say is that she is very excited for fall season in Wyoming. “Hopefully I go to Nationals. Right now, that is my biggest goal.”