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Sulphur High's Jace Gilbert. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Sulphur High's Jace Gilbert. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Gilbert follows father’s footsteps

Last Modified: Friday, June 07, 2013 6:14 PM

By Chris LeBlanc / Special to the American Press

It has been said that “rodeo gets in your blood.”

This has been seen both literally and figuratively throughout the history of the sport as generations of young men and women follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents to become cowboys and cowgirls.

Jace Gilbert, a Sulphur native and high school rodeo competitor, is no stranger to this phenomenon.

Gilbert, like his father before him, has taken a shine to the arena.

Gilbert said his father dabbled in team roping throughout his life but never reached the level of success of his young son. As a 17-year-old junior in high school, Gilbert has become the points leader in the state in the tie down event entering the final days of the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association’s state championships at Burton Coliseum.

The rodeo runs through Saturday night.

Never reaching the level of his own achievement, Gilbert said his father often pushed him to succeed where he did not.

“He kinda pushed me to be better,” Gilbert said. “I could never play any other sports when I was young because all my time was focused on rodeo.”

Gilbert, a junior, said he is not decided which college he will attend. But he does know one thing: wherever he ends up, he will be a cowboy.

“I know I want stay involved in the rodeo in college,” he said. “Even after college, I want to try to go into the pros.”

These lofty goals may not be out of reach for the cowboy who has an impressive 8.0 seconds as a personal best in his event.

Focus on hard work and dedication has lent itself to Gilbert’s uphill battle to success this season.

“I messed up a few times early this year, so I had to watch the guys above me,” Gilbert said.

He trained for 12-15 hours every week to make up ground on his opponents.

Gilbert must place in the top four at this week’s state rodeo to advance to nationals, July 14-20 in Rock Springs, Wyo.

The task will be difficult, but Gilbert said he is confident in the face of adversity.

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