Fresh back from the 2021 National High School Rodeo championships, Maryn Buchanan is both blazing a personal trail while adding to the well-earned fame of her extended family.
Maryn is the latest standout in the legendary Parsons clan that includes patriarch Charlie; rodeo legends Clay, Joe and Cutter; rodeo star and multi-sport athlete Erin; and stud basketball players Mallory and Carly. (Maryn’s mom, Tracy, is a Parsons.) The Parsons family is synonymous with both Marana and rodeo, so Maryn has both a solid base and a whole lot to try to live up to. She’s off to a good start.
The National High School Rodeo is actually misnamed. It doesn’t just feature the top high-school age rodeo competitors from the United States, but also draws people from Mexico, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This year’s event was held in Nebraska; for the next two years, it will be in Wyoming.
She reached Nationals by competing on an almost year-round basis, piling up points along the way as she headed into the State Finals in Prescott. The top four finishers in each event are invited to Nationals. She was one of a select few to reach the Nationals in multiple events. (She didn’t qualify in Barrel Racing, but hopes to do so next year.)
Her best mark was in Breakaway Roping, in which a rider on a horse must lasso a running calf and then signal for her horse to stop. Once the calf pulls the rope taut, the rope breaks loose from the saddle horn so as not to injure the calf and, more importantly, to signal the end of the event to the timer. It is not unreasonable to see times in this event in the double digits of seconds. The least-fast time at the Nationals was 14.14 seconds.
Maryn did it in 2.5 seconds. That was fast enough to win her pool of 13 ropers. She would end up finishing 11th overall out of more than 200 competitors in the event. A roper from Texas won the event with a mind-boggling time of 1.92 seconds.
Seriously, can you imagine a sporting event involving two animals, a human, a rope and a perfectly executed tug on the reins accompanied by a voice command, all accomplished under three seconds? It’s crazy.
Maryn actually has two different horses for her competitions. Chiquita is her Roping horse, but for Pole Bending, she rides Joe. (Pole Bending is the rodeo equivalent of the Giant Slalom in skiing. Competitors on horseback weave in and out of closely spaced poles that are stuck in the ground.) There was again a wide range of times at the Nationals, ranging from a winning time of 19.811 seconds down to a time of 43.962. Maryn’s time of 26.777 seconds put her in the middle of the pack of 200-plus competitors.
“I know I can do better than that,” she says. “It just wasn’t a good day for me and Joe.”
Well, considering that Joe is 22 years old(!), every day is a good day for him. Isn’t that kinda old for a horse to be competing?, she was asked.
“Well, maybe. Very few horses compete over the age of 20, but Joe still has a lot of spirit and competitiveness in him. Besides, he doesn’t know that he’s 22.”
You’re keeping it from him?! Doesn’t he deserve to know?
“We’ll (both) know when it’s time,” she explains.
Maryn is already training horses that could potentially take his place when Joe applies for the equine version of Social Security.
She is entering her junior year of high school, so she has two more years to compete at Nationals. She has thought about trying to squeeze in high-school sports (she used to play volleyball and softball and, at nearly 5’ 9”, ought to be able to carry on the Parsons tradition of playing basketball), but there just isn’t enough time in the day.
“I’m up with the sun, checking on the horses, then there’s school and then practicing. My days are full.”
She hopes to compete in rodeo in college and perhaps even earn an athletic scholarship to do so. (I wouldn’t bet against it.)
One quick side note: While doing the research for this, I looked online at the results of the Nationals, poring over the lists for odd stats and/or unique names. Unique? More like priceless. In one of the events for boys, two of the top finishers were Cash Robb and Chance Story. It’s like it was written by Elmore Leonard.
Speaking of names, what’s with Maryn?
“I’m named after Marin County in California, but my mom put a ‘y’ in there just so people would mess it up for my entire life.”
Yeah, well, at this point, just about everything else seems to be going right.