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Creston teen takes 11th nationally in bareback riding

Corbyn Vicker rides a bull  at Adams County Fair in Corning Tuesday night. He competed in bareback steer riding at the 15th Annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo June 24-30.
Corbyn Vicker rides a bull at Adams County Fair in Corning Tuesday night. He competed in bareback steer riding at the 15th Annual National Junior High Finals Rodeo June 24-30.

If there’s one thing that 14-year-old Corbyn Vicker, of Creston, loves, it’s the thrill of riding a bull in a rodeo.

“It’s just fun. I like the adrenaline rush,” said Corbyn. “It’s just my favorite thing to do.”

He participated in mutton busting at a young age, but Corbyn started seriously pursuing the rush he mentioned about halfway through elementary school. He cites movies as a source of great inpiration at that age, as well as being around rodeo often as a child.

“We let (him) enter steer riding, thinking that he’d get hurt, he’d be done,” said Corbyn’s mother, Amber. “He did it and he won and loved it, and has been doing it ever since.”

Eventually, though, the first part of his parents’ prediction became a reality; he rode and he got hurt, but quitting wasn’t an option Corbyn considered.

June 2017, just days after competing in the 2017 National Junior High Finals Rodeo in the saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding categories, Corbyn’s leg was stepped on by a bull while competing in Osceola.

While being bucked off, Corbyn’s hand was caught in the ropes, making it impossible to get away. One step from the bull broke Corbyn’s femur cleanly in two.

When he did get free, despite the audible indication that his leg had been broken when it happened, Corbyn’s first instinct was to get up. He took one step before going back down.

After his bone-breaking ride, Corbyn was faced with months of recovery and multiple surgeries. But his mind was always set on returning to the arena.

“He would do bull riding in a wheelchair,” said Amber. “He was in a wheelchair for a while and we would catch him practicing moves in that.”

“I pretty well knew he wasn’t done,” said Clint, Corbyn’s father.

Despite the long and difficult physical recovery ahead of him, he explained that his biggest challenge in returning to rodeo has been mental; “After coming back from my broken leg, I just didn’t have the right mindset.”

The event took its toll on his parents as well.

“For me, it was horrible to watch him go through that,” said Amber. “My anxiety is a little bit higher now, but he’s gonna do what he enjoys and I’ll support him.”

All of them began facing their worries in April, just a week after the metal plate was removed from Corbyn’s leg, when he competed for the first time in nearly a year.

He then began the road to catching up to his competitors, determined to return to the world’s largest junior high rodeo.

“He was half a year behind (his competitors) in the points,” explained Clint. “We had a lot of ground to make up.”

Despite the six months of competition he missed, Corbyn placed fourth in the state of Iowa in bareback riding this year, which qualified him to compete at nationals in Huron, South Dakota.

The National Junior High Finals Rodeo is the world’s largest junior high rodeo. This year it featured roughly 1,000 contestants from across the U.S. as well as parts of Canada, Australia and Mexico.

Once contestants arrive at the finals, their points are zeroed out and they compete against each other with a clean slate. The top 20 competitors in each category after the first two rounds advance to the short go. Corbyn qualified for the short go in 15th place, and was the only competitor from Iowa to make it to the short go in that category.

His goal was to place in the top 10; after the short go, he finished just two points shy of that goal.

“It wasn’t where I wanted to be but 11th (in the world) ain’t bad,” said Corbyn.

Looking to the future, Corbyn is about to begin his first year of high school, and plans to continue riding in the high school division. At the junior high national level, only steers are ridden bareback, but at the high school level competitors begin to ride horses.

Amber added that she worries about Corbyn riding horses and had hoped to convince him to go into roping in high school, like his brother, but Corbyn hasn’t been swayed.

“He’s stubborn,” explained Amber.

Part of that bullheadedness comes from his drive to become a professional bullrider, like his coach, John Young, of Orient.

Those wishing to see Corbyn ride this summer can catch him at rodeos around the state. After competing in Corning last night, his next stop is in Adel tomorrow and Friday.

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