Since Cody Martinez was a toddler, he knew what he wanted to do with his life: bull riding.
Thanks to that drive, he’s now attending the National High School Finals Rodeo for the sixth year in a row.
“He rode his first sheep when he was 4,” said Kristi Gueho, Martinez’s mother.
Martinez, now 18, said he rides every weekend he can, and all of the points he’s garnered from each accredited rodeo he’s participated in placed him in the top four finalists from Louisiana.
According to the NHSFR 2016 Facebook page, he will join about 1,600 other contestants from around the United States, Canada and Australia to vie for top honors in the competition, run by the National High School Rodeo Association, beginning on July 17 at Cam-Plex Multi-Event Facilities in Gillette, Wyoming. Martinez will ride in his first round on July 20.
Martinez, a man of few words, said he couldn’t really explain why he loves bull riding, but he does.
“I black out for the first two or three jumps,” he said. “But I’ll throw up the deuces once I know I’m good.”
“I hold my breath every time he rides,” said Gueho, and rightly so.
“I’ve been knocked out before,” Martinez said.
“He’s also had his helmet stepped on and cracked,” added his mother.
Martinez, who is entering his senior year at Dutchtown High School, has otherwise managed to escape any serious injuries so far, but he noted some of his friends haven’t been so lucky.
Gueho said riders only have 8 seconds to put on their best show for the judges, and a lot of their final score depends on the luck of the draw because each rider gets a different bull chosen at random.
“I don’t like to talk about judging,” said Martinez with a chuckle.
But Martinez obviously does well, as he’s won dozens of buckles from various rodeos and competitions over the years.
“There’s no question in his mind that this is what he wants to do, and I support him fully,” his mother said.
In fact, she’s bringing him to watch the professional bull riding national finals in December in Las Vegas.
“Hopefully, he’ll be in it one day,” she added.
“I plan on it,” Martinez said.