Cowboy up; DSU freshman competes in College National Finals Rodeo

ST. GEORGE – “It’s the ropes and the reins, the joys and pains and they call the thing ‘rodeo.’” Those are the iconic lines in Garth Brooks’ song “Rodeo,” a song about a passion and love for rodeo despite its ups and downs; and Garrison Cannon, a St. George native and Dixie State University freshman, is living that rodeo life.

Tony Cannon and Garrison Cannon pose for a photo after Garrison won the Rocky Mountain Region in Steer Wrestling, location not specified, date not specified| Photo Courtesy of ShayLee Furley
Tony Cannon and Garrison Cannon pose for a photo after Garrison won the Rocky Mountain Region in Steer Wrestling, location not specified, date not specified| Photo Courtesy of ShayLee Furley

Born and raised in St. George, Garrison Cannon started learning the ropes of rodeo at a very young age. Both he and his siblings – an older sister and a twin sister – grew up with rodeo, Garrison Cannon said, and, though it was always a family affair – Garrison’s father, Tony, is one of his coaches – they were never forced into it.

“My parents would always ask us if we still wanted to do it,” Garrison Cannon said, “I just started living it.”

It is a life that is at once powerful in its sheer toughness and beautiful in its symbiotic relationship between man and animal.

“Everything in rodeo is about teamwork but your partner is a horse,” Garrison Cannon said, “your ability to work with an animal is just a miracle and it is what caught my attention about rodeo.”

Garrison Cannon competed in High School rodeo at Dixie High School and was crowned a High School national champion shortly before serving a two-year mission in St. Louis, Missouri, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Upon completion of his mission he began his college career at Dixie State University competing in tie-down roping, team roping and steer wrestling for the DSU rodeo club in the Rocky Mountain Region.

The Rocky Mountain Region consists of 10 member schools that hail from Utah, Southern Idaho and Western Colorado. Throughout the school year, athletes competed in several rodeos earning points in their chosen disciplines.

Garrison Cannon competes in the steer wrestling category at the College National Finals Rodeo, June 17, 2014, Casper, Wyoming| Photo courtesy of Cindy Cannon
Garrison Cannon competes in the steer wrestling category at the College National Finals Rodeo, June 17, 2014, Casper, Wyoming| Photo courtesy of Cindy Cannon

The top three athletes from each event are invited to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo where over 400 participants from 132 schools across the country come to rope, wrestle and ride in hopes of garnering scholarship funding and a national title, DSU rodeo advisor ShayLee Furley said.

On April 12,with a grand total of 808 points, Garrison Cannon won the Rocky Mountain Region Championship in the Steer Wrestling event earning the opportunity to compete in the College National Finals Rodeo held in Casper, Wyoming, this week.

In addition to his region championship in steer wrestling, Garrison Cannon also placed 11th in the region for the tie-down roping competition and ended up with 5th place in the male all around competition, Furley said.

To compete at that level is an accomplishment in its own right but Garrison Cannon did it as a full-time student, working a full-time, labor-intensive job all while remaining a kind and selfless human being.

“He is such a service-oriented individual,” Furley, said, “he is always looking to help someone else.”

Though he does have one sponsor – The Stephen Wade Auto Group – most of the funding for his rodeo competition was paid for out of his own pocket.

“He has spent at least $1,000 just at the College National Finals,” Cindy Cannon said, “it’s teaching him, he is still learning and still growing but he is really stepping up to the plate.”

Garrison Cannon shows off his steer wrestling prowess at a rode competition, location not specified, date not specified| Photo courtesy of ShayLee Furley
Garrison Cannon shows off his steer wrestling prowess at a rode competition, location not specified, date not specified| Photo courtesy of ShayLee Furley

But despite all his hard work and accomplishments, Garrison Cannon has also faced setbacks. In November 2013, he was in a car accident that caused internal bleeding and head trauma that left him with no memory of his fall semester including several of his rodeo competitions and, more recently, on his first day of competition at the College National Finals, he got pinned under his horse and possibly suffered a broken hand.

“I am sure his hand is broken,” Cindy Cannon said, “it is so big and he can’t use it.”

Still, Garrison Cannon presses on with a passion for competition, love for animals and a drive to succeed, in rodeo and in life.

“He has big goals, these kids aren’t just rodeo bums,” Cindy Cannon said, “they are our future, they want to be something and we are proud of the decisions Garrison is making.”

Competition continues through Saturday where Garrison Cannon hopes to earn a scholarship to continue his education and rodeo career.

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