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ENMU student reins in rodeo queen crown

Brittany Bennett likens rodeos to family reunions.

Unlike many sports, camaraderie often trumps rivalry and competitors can be like brothers and sisters.

The 19-year-old from Portales will carry that belief with her when she begins her reign as Miss Rodeo Queen New Mexico in January.

“(Rodeos are) just such a family atmosphere,” Bennett said. “Even though you’re competing against those people, if you need help they are more than willing to help you even if you’re going for the same title. It’s like a home away from home. It’s the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen in any sport.”

The Eastern New Mexico University student defeated two competitors to win the Miss Rodeo pageant on Thursday morning at the Holiday Inn in Clovis. The pageant included competitions in the categories of speech, photogenics, appearance, personality and horsemanship.

Later Thursday evening, she was at the annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo at the Curry County Fairgrounds, where she spent time chatting with friends and family and being honored before the event.

As rodeo queen, Bennett will travel to events to promote and teach others about the sport she so loves.

In December of 2005, she will compete for the Miss Rodeo America title in Las Vegas, Nev., an event she will begin preparing for this summer by horseback riding in Arizona.

The 2003 Dora High School graduate said she’s been competing in rodeo pageants for 10 years, winning in the teen category in 2000 and 2001.

To her parents, Charles and Beverly Bennett, Brittany’s dedication and hard work are a source of pride and excitement for what the future holds.

“We’re thrilled to death,” Charles said Thursday evening. “It takes a lot of work on her part and we just get to share in the fun part.”

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