SPRING CREEK – “I ride bulls,” the statement expressed by both Spring Creek seniors Zach Hatch and John Shiflet.
Currently competing in high school rodeos, the cowboys must keep their mind in the middle as their thoughts and sights transition to college arenas – each planning to compete at the next level for the Conquistadors of Dodge City Community College, in Kansas.
While Hatch has said he’s been competing in rodeos and riding since he was little, Shiflet is a relative newcomer to the sport – “coming up on a year now.”
Their choice of college is the same, and so are their current and future goals.
“I want to make it to state,” Shiflet said.
“I want to win state,” said Hatch.
As far as their collegiate goals are concerned, they can be summed up the by famous words of the late, great Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, who routinely said “just win, baby.”
Shiflet and Hatch discovered Dodge City Community College on Facebook, through which they made their first contacts with the rodeo program by messages.
The decision to attend Dodge City was an easy one, each cowboy saying they haven’t been in contact with any other colleges.
“I just want ride good,” Shiflet said.
“I want to be a national champion,” said Hatch.
While at Dodge City Community College, Hatch plans to study diesel technology while Shiflet has his eyes set on the welding program.
“It’s bitter sweet because it’s far away, but I’m proud of him,” said Shiflet’s mother, Victoria Shiflet-Simmons.
The sentiments were reiterated by Hatch’s parents, Joe and Stacy.
“We’re excited but I’m surprised,” Joe Hatch said.
“I’m glad. Four years ago, I never thought we’d be here,” Stacy Hatch said. “He always used to say that he didn’t want to go to college.”
“I just always thought I would get out of high school and go to work for one of the mines,” said Zach Hatch.
With the spring rodeo season now in full swing, Hatch and Shiflet will have a few months to chase down their goals of riding bulls at the state finals, winning a championship and representing Nevada at the National High School Finals Rodeo.
The 2019 Nevada High School Rodeo State Finals will take place May 26-28 at Horseman’s Park, in Las Vegas.