ROCK SPRINGS — Members of the Mexico National High School Finals Rodeo squad said they are enjoying their time in Rock Springs.

It’s been a beautiful experience, Melissa Quiroga said through an interpreter. She has been participating in breakaway roping and barrel racing for Team Mexico.

Quiroga, who is from Cienega de Flores in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, arrived early on July 12 after a 28-hour drive. She came with her brother, Gilberto “Beto” Quiroga Jr.; her father, Gilberto Quiroga, Sr.; Team Mexico teammate, Miguel Morales; Morales’ brother, Daniel Morales; and Morales’ mom.

Quiroga said she has done well in barrel racing, but the horse she is using is “kind of difficult” because it is not hers.

She has also sung the Mexican National Anthem, or “Himno Nacional Mexicano,” before a couple events at the Sweetwater Events Complex’s Grandstands.

“I felt so nervous because it’s my anthem,” she said.

Quiroga said she will be going to the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she wants to begin working on becoming a general surgeon.

AN OPPORTUNITY

Barrel racer Vanessa Pineda, from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, said through an interpreter she was nervous before the start of the rodeo, but “is happy to be here.”

Pineda said she was happy to be in Rock Springs because she has an opportunity to compete with competitors from other countries.

Tie-down roper Alfredo Leon, from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, agreed.

Leon said he cried when he heard the news in January that the Mexican Rodeo Federation joined up with the National High School Rodeo Association to organize the Mexican High School Rodeo Association.

The move was big because it means more opportunities for Mexican student-athletes to compete in other places in the future, he said.

LOCAL SUPPORT

Leon said he likes Rock Springs.

“It’s a pretty quiet place,” he said.

He said he is from Hermosillo, which has a population of about 800,000 people, so in Rock Springs he is able to rest.

Leon said people in Rock Springs have been “pretty good to us.”

“Everyone helps us, cheers us on,” he added.

“It’s been great,” Mexico Rodeo Federation President Guillermo “Memo” Herrera said. “They are having a great time. They are feeling welcomed everywhere.”

The future is looking bright for Mexico.

The event will encourage parents to become more involved, competitors to aim higher and become better prepared, Mexico National High School Rodeo Association Director Aldo Garibay said.

“We’re excited about the future of our sport in Mexico,” he said.

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