SHAWNEE, Okla. — Will McGraw of East Bend, North Carolina, is competing in the 24th annual International Finals Youth Rodeo held July 10-15 at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, in Shawnee. McGraw is participating in the world’s richest youth rodeo, hoping to win his share of more than $200,000 in prize money and championship saddles and buckles.
McGraw will join more than 800 of the top high school rodeo athletes from across the United States for the 2016 IFYR. Contestants will compete in 10 events running simultaneously in three arenas throughout the week. Events include barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and bareback riding. The IFYR consists of two long go-rounds and a short go. All contestants compete once in each of the long go-rounds. The top 15 averages in each event will compete Friday night in the championship round short go for fame and prizes.
McGraw is vying for prizes in tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling.
“Our main purpose from the beginning of the International Finals Youth Rodeo has been to provide high school athletes with a professional level rodeo,” said Chris Dunlap, assistant director of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center and International Finals Youth Rodeo. “It’s a great opportunity for these young athletes to get an idea of what to expect if they continue to rodeo in college and beyond.”
The IFYR is not only home to the top high school athletes in the nation, but it is also an opportunity that allows for contestants and their families to travel, rodeo along the way and meet peers from across the country.
The International Finals Youth Rodeo, held annually since 1993, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that presents top high school athletes with a professional rodeo. The internationally-recognized IFYR is held annually at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The action-packed event includes hundreds of contestants vying to win more than $200,000 in prize money, competing in 10 events running simultaneously in three arenas over six days. In 2015, more than 930 contestants and their families traveled from 32 states to participate in the IFYR.