This fall, with a scholarship from the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Kellen Merica will continue his love of roping.
But until then, this spring, Merica, 17, of Chubbuck is competing on the Idaho District 4 High School Rodeo team. He is also the student president of the Highland/Pocatello/Century Rodeo Club. Schools in district 4, include; American Falls, Aberdeen, Rockland, Highland, Pocatello, Century, Blackfoot, Sho-Ban, Shelley, Firth and Snake River.
Kellen team ropes and calf ropes. His team roping partner is his younger sister Quinn Merica, 14. Quinn heads and Kellen heels.
Last year in calf roping, he qualified for state and ended up in the top 15. Kellen practices year round and enjoys both events equally.
“I don’t have a preference, I like them both,” he said.
Kellen heads but prefers heeling.
“Heeling can be a little more difficult, but it doesn’t matter to me, I like everything. I’ve practiced heading, but I usually stick to heeling,” he said.
Both calf roping and team roping are demanding and competitive for ropers and horses.
“We try to practice daily outdoors now and indoors in the winter,” he said. “It’s just keeping my horse honest and making him work. You’ll always be training on your horse even if you get a horse someone else trains. There’s always little things you can do to keep them working, honest and solid.”
Kellen likes practicing, competing and traveling. In high school rodeo competitors compete Friday and Saturday, over six weekends, with each day counting as one rodeo. District 4 kids compete in Pocatello at the Bannock County Events Center, formerly the Bannock County Fairgrounds, in Blackfoot, and in American Falls from April to May.
District qualifiers compete in the 2021 Idaho High School Finals Rodeo June 5-12 at the Bannock County Events Center in Pocatello and state qualifiers advance to the National High School Finals Rodeo held July 18-24 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
To keep his skills sharp Merica ropes whenever and wherever the sport takes him. Recently Merica and his friend and header Carson Klinger of Rexburg team roped in Wickenburg, Arizona, and in Cave Creek, Arizona at the Dynamite Arena, two popular areas for the rapidly growing sport of team roping.
“It was a good experience and it was the first time I’ve roped in Arizona,” he said “I think it’s just fun in general. I got to meet a lot of people and you can win a lot money too,” he said. “Of course it’s always fun just to be roping and going to a lot of different places. I like everything that goes with it.”
Merica credits his dad Trent Merica, Kent Shiozawa and his son Matt, a tie down roper who has competed nine times at the National Finals Rodeo, and Chris and Janie Freed, all of Chubbuck for their
help. His dad is one of three district 4 advisors and adult vice president of the Highland/Century/Pocatello Idaho High School Rodeo Club.
“I learned a lot from Kent and Matt Shiozawa, and we spend almost every day at the Freed’s roping,” he said. “And they host a roping every Wednesday at the fairgrounds here.”
Merica sees roping as a lifelong pursuit, and hasn’t ruled out competition on a national level.
“It’s definitely something I want to do the rest of my life,” he said. “If I’m good enough, I’d like to rope on a national level, but I’ll see where it takes me,” he said.
In what spare time he has, he likes to go fishing below the American Falls dam. He works part- time welding pipe fencing in the summers and he’ll study welding at CSI in the fall.