Even though she's just going to be a sophomore at Harmony Magnet Academy, it's been a long journey for Elsa Flynn to qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo.

“She doesn't remember the first time she got on a horse,” said her mother, Karol Aure Flynn. The moment Elsa Flynn will realize next week began when she was first placed on a horse as an infant.

She's been participating in rodeo for 10 years and she has now qualified for the NHSFR in goat tying. The NHSFR will be held from Sunday, July 18 through Saturday, July 24 in Lincoln, Neb., with the finals taking place on July 24. “It's been a very long time to get here,” Elsa said.

Flynn qualified for the NHSFR when she placed fourth at the California State High School Rodeo Finals recently held in Bishop. The top four at the state event advanced to nationals.

After the two preliminary rounds at state, Flynn entered the final go-round in third and her finish in the finals and overall time for the three rounds of 24.150 seconds was good enough for fourth and a place at nationals.

Flynn's performance at state also capped off a year in which as a freshman in her first her in high school competition was named as the District 6 All-Around Rookie of the Year. District 6 essentially covers the Valley from Fresno to Bakersfield and Kings County.

In addition to competing in goat tying, Flynn also competed in barrel racing, breakaway roping and pole bending and finished in the top 10 in the district in barrel racing and breakaway roping.

But it's in goat tying, an event she's competed in for seven years, where Flynn has shined the most. Flynn described goat tying as the event “I've had the most challenging with. It was the hardest event for me.”

But it's now become her favorite event. “It's the one that's paid off the most,” she said. “I've been blessed to have the horses I have and to be able to do what I love.”

Next week, Flynn will compete in her two preliminary rounds on Tuesday morning and Thursday night. The top 20 overall finishers from the two preliminary rounds will advance to the finals. The overall finish for competitors will be determined by their overall time in the three rounds.

Flynn has a goal to finish in the top 20 to advance to the finals and it figures she will have to have times in the rage of her best time, 7.1 seconds, to advance to the finals. “I'll have to bring my A game,” she said. “I'm going to give it my all at nationals.”

She said she's also looking forward to attempting to qualify for nationals her remaining three years in high school. Flynn has been competing in high school rodeo since the sixth grade when she competed in the junior high division.

“My mentality is going to be me and do the best that I can do,” said Flynn about how she'll approach nationals.

The NHSFR will feature more than 1,650 contestants from 44 states, Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand. There will be $150,000 in prizes, $200,000 in prize money and $375,000 in college scholarships.

The Saturday championship performance will be televised on RFD-TV. Live broadcasts of each NHSFR performance will air online at www.RiderPass.com. Performance times begin at 7 p.m. July 18 and will continue at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. through July 24. For more information visit NHSRA.com.

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