A cypress display case made by Dutchtown High School sophomore Cody Martinez’s great-grandfather holds the more than 30 belt buckles he’s won bull riding.

He’s hoping to add at least one more in July when he heads back to the high school national rodeo finals.

Martinez ended the rodeo season in third place in the state despite missing the first five rodeo events of the year.

Martinez’s interest in bull riding started when, still in diapers, he watched the movie “8 Seconds.”

Around the age of 5, he started riding sheep and advanced to bulls a few years later.

He competed in junior high school rodeo events, making it to the junior high school finals the three years he was eligible for that division.

High school national finals will be held in Rock Springs, Wyoming, from July 12-18.

The road trip will begin July 8. Martinez’s mom, Kristi Gueho, stepdad, Brent Gueho, fellow bull rider and bareback rider Justin Mire and Martinez will be traveling to nationals later this month.

“This year will be a little different because his Gan (grandmother) will not be able to make the trip for the first time since sixth grade because she has a new grandson being born during that time,” Kristi Gueho said. “She is one of his No. 1 fans.”

Rodeo is like a family, she said, adding that the young ropers and riders “support each other, help each other behind the chutes and cheer each other on.”

There aren’t many places to practice bull riding in Ascension Parish, so Martinez tries to enter as many rodeos as he can outside of high school rodeo events. Although Martinez said he plans to be a professional bull rider after graduation, his high school plans include attending ABC welding school as a junior and senior to have something to fall back on.

“To date, he has not been seriously injured from bull riding, but it’s not if you get hurt; it’s when you get hurt,” Gueho said. “We keep counting our blessings and thanking God for his safety.”