Between high school graduation and freshman orientation at LSU, Abigail Manning took the state barrel racing title and began preparations for the National High School Rodeo in Wyoming.

The May Episcopal High School graduate may be the first Baton Rouge high school barrel racer to win the state title.

“She’s the first in my 20 years,” said Stephanie Rodrigue, Louisiana High School Rodeo Association secretary.

Manning, 18, the daughter of Kristy Adams, has been a barrel racer since she was 4 years old.

“My grandmother was a barrel racer, and my grandfather team roped,” Manning said.

Grandparents Barbara and Jim Lynch will fly to Gillette, Wyo., to watch Manning compete in the July 17-23 finals.

“They travel with me everywhere,” Manning said. “They live in Jackson, an hour north of Baton Rouge. When I had to stay in Baton Rouge during the school week, they’d take care of my horses.”

At the state high school rodeo in Gonzales in June, the title came down to Manning’s last run.

“Every run counts, but it’s the average time that’s important,” Manning said.

Manning will be joined in Wyoming by Ashley Broussard, of Lafayette Parish; Sami Sylvester, St. Michael the Archangel High School; and Laynee Jo DeBarge, of St. Landry Parish.

“We’ll be competing as a team from Louisiana for points,” Manning said, “but we’ll be competing against each other, too.”

Barrel racers compete against the clock as they ride a clover leaf pattern around three barrels. Length of the course depends on the size of the arena. Five seconds are added for each barrel knocked over.

“It’s what kind of horse you’re on and who the trainer is” as much as the rider’s skill, Manning said.

Draw has a lot to do with it, too.

“The first rider gets the best ground,” Barbara Lynch said.

“They try to make it fair,” Manning said. “We have two go-rounds.” The course is smoothed between go-rounds. “You could be first on the ground in the first go-round and last on the last go-round.”

This is Manning’s first trip to nationals.

“It’s nerve racking,” she said, “but we’ll work our butts off.”

To see Manning ride go to

These are the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association members (and their parishes) who qualified for nationals:

Bareback: Taylor Broussard, Acadia; Cody Smith, Morehouse; Brannon Haggart, Rapides; Derrick Chaisson, Tangipahoa.

Barrels: Abigail Manning, East Baton Rouge; Ashley Broussard, Lafayette; Sami Sylvester, Ascension; Laynee Jo DeBarge, St. Landry.

Boys cutting: Dalton Boudreaux, Cameron; Ike Fontenot, Evangeline; Josh Burns, Rapides; Camron Fontenot, Evangeline.

Breakaway roping: Paige Plush, Beauregard; Katie Adams, Lafayette; Lanie Courville, Allen; Becca Dupont, Cameron.

Bull riding: Brett McLin, Livingston; Austin Walock, Livingston; Landon Cappel, Allen; Cody Guy, Beauregard.

Girls cutting: Blair Bouget, Lafayette; Mallory Gilbert, Red River; Abby Miller, Cameron; Darby Shope, Beauregard.

Goat tying: Kylie Frey, Lafayette; Lauren Hansen, Calcasieu; Sami Little, Cameron; Kaitlyn Frey, Lafayette.

Poles: Darby Shope, Beauregard; Rachel Deville, East Baton Rouge; Morgan Moses, Rapides; Becca Dupont, Cameron.

Saddle bronc: Landon Cappel, Allen; Luke Daughenbaugh, Calcasieu; Canon Fletcher, Franklin; Brandon Breaux, Calcasieu.

Steer wrestling: Rowdy Parrott, Evangeline; J.D. Hebert, Acadia; Josh Denison, Calcasieu; Nick White, Calcasieu.

Team roping: Dalton Seaford, Calcasieu, and Kyle King, Calcasieu; Brian Fontenot, Evangeline, and Nick White, Calcasieu; Ike Fontenot, Evangeline, and Zachary Poole, Ouachita; Miles Carriere, St. Landry, and Jack Melancon, Acadia.

Tie-down roping: Ike Fontenot, Evangeline; Kade Aucoin, Bossier; Pye Savoie, Acadia; Luke Kinney, Calcasieu.