Stockdale saddle star shines in Iowa
Stockdale’s Wells Mitchell prepares for his first appearance in national competition June 23 in breakaway.
For the second year in a row, a Wilson County cowboy earned a spot on the Texas National Junior High Rodeo team and competed in boys breakaway. Wells Mitchell, who just completed seventh grade at Stockdale Junior High School, competed June 22-28 during the 10th annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Des Moines, Iowa.
Breakaway is similar to calf roping, except after the roper lassos the calf, he does not dismount the horse; instead, the rider signals the horse to stop. This allows the rope -- tied to the saddle horn with a string -- to break away, which marks the end of the run.
Wells, the son of DJ and Shanna Mitchell, ended this season with a 12th-place finish at national competition. He also had the honor on being on the winning 2014 national team -- Texas -- in only his first year at nationals and second year competing at state.
Riding since he was 3 years old, Wells began rodeoing at age 5. He said his father, DJ, is the reason he got involved in rodeos. When DJ is not working at Texana Feeders, he participates in ranch rodeos and has competed with M&M Cattle Co. and the Briscoe Ranch.
Shanna said her son practices on average three to four days a week and rodeos almost every weekend.
Wells also receives help from Jimmy Hodge, Russell Blandford, Robert Blandford, and Cody Harris.
The young roper is a member of the Youth Rodeo Association, the Ultimate Calf Roping Association, and Joe Beaver Calf Roping and serves as the Texas Junior High Rodeo Association Region VI vice president and is a student director. This member of the Stockdale FFA and Stockdale Junior High Student Council is also an honor student who participates in UIL History.
No one should count this comeback kid out too soon. Wells was ranked sixth in District VI. This ensured him a return visit to state. To qualify for state competition, cowboys accumulate points in rodeos held in 10 different regions across the state, with the top 10 in each event advancing.
During state competition, held in Gonzales in late May, Wells’ first go breakaway time was 3.96 seconds. He improved in the second go, with a time of 3.490. In the final round, he again improved with a 3.120, making his average for the three runs 10.570. This combined average time was short by only 0.010 to win first place at state. His reserve title guaranteed him a spot to compete in nationals, since the top four in each category advance.
Wells’ first appearance at nationals was June 23, where his time of 4.13 had him out of the top 25. To qualify for the short go (or final round), he had to finish among the top 20.
He made up the deficit in the second round with an impressive time of 2.41 seconds, placing him fourth in the second-round average. When the two rounds were combined, Wells’ 6.54 time put him in 13th place -- qualifying him for the finals (short go).
Wells competed in the short go June 28 and scored a 13.83. When his three runs were combined (20.37), Wells finished 12th in the nation.
Breakaway was only one of four events in which Wells competed at state. The others were ribbon roping, boys goat tying, and team roping, where he served as a heeler.
In team roping, Wells competed with Will Pollock of Utopia. They ranked seventh in Region 6 going into state competition.
Their time of 8.570 in the second go was the second-fastest for that round. The time of 14.410 in the third go was the third-fastest. With a no time in the first go, the team placed seventh in the average at state competition and sixth overall for the season.
Wells, ranked No. 7 in the Region 6 All Around, also was ranked fourth in boys goat tying.
Wells was not the only junior high rodeo athlete to compete at nationals this year from this area. Emma Smith of Pleasanton also competed. Watch for more about her and other youth competitors in future issues.