In a little more over a month, Dustin Sanchez will ride off into the sunset as an Ignacio High School Bobcat.
But that sun’s already risen again, revealing to him his next destination. He signed to compete on the rodeo team at Garden City Community College in Kansas.
“You know, everyone around here usually is going to close schools so they can be close to home with family and everything,” he said during a phone interview Sunday night. “I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”
Sanchez has a comfort zone all his own atop bulls. Garden City coach Jimboy Hash will hope to see Sanchez continue to excel in those eight-second rides in upcoming years after Sanchez committed to the school on April 4.
The Broncbusters are members of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Central Plains Region and compete at home at the GCCC Horse Palace as well as the Finney County Fairgrounds. Sanchez saw a bit of action when he signed with the school April 4.
“I didn’t really get to see much of it because I came back for my own rodeo,” said Sanchez, referring to an event in Ganado, Arizona, at which he won the bullriding competition with an 83-point ride. “But I went and did a college visit and everything, looked around, and it’s a pretty cool school. And it’s just kind of a cowboy city, you know? There’s a parking lot like our high school parking lot, and it’s real mellow there, not hustle and bustle everywhere like a big university would be.”
Sanchez first got in contact with the school by word of mouth.
“One of my rodeo friends’ older sister gave my name to the coach, Jimboy, and he looked me up on Facebook,” Sanchez said. “That’s how we got in contact, and we started talking about possible offers. I sent him a few videos of me riding, and he started saying, ‘I don’t have many bullriders, so I’d love to bring you on.’”
Not bad for a fellow first hooked on the event not really all that long ago.
“It was freshman year,” recalled Sanchez, son of K.C. Hall and Jessie Sanchez, “and I got up on a bucking steer in the Chama Days Rodeo over in Chama, New Mexico. I kind of just took off from there, started getting on high school bulls, practice bulls and just fell in. It became part of my life.”
Named to the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association’s 2018-19 Cinch Team as its bullrider, Sanchez has already been victorious six times, including a sweep of the three-day Cortez event (rides of 65, 73 and 71 points) back in September 2018 in CSHSRA action, with scheduled stops in Golden (April 13-14), Lamar (April 27-28), Rifle (May 3-5) and Greeley (May 11-12) still remaining on the schedule before the May 23-27 State Finals in Craig.
And then, of course, there’s the National High School Finals Rodeo in July in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in which he’s looking pretty good to qualify as he did in Light Rifle the past two summers.
Asked what advice he received during his IHS days would serve him best moving forward at GCCC and beyond, Sanchez, who mentioned exercise science as a possible field of study at Garden City, looked to his success in high school wrestling.
“Mostly what (Bobcat wrestling head coach) Jordan Larsen and (assistant coach) Cody Haga taught me over the past couple years: If you’re going to do something, do it with full effort. Otherwise, it’s not worth it,” Sanchez said.