LAS VEGAS — Quintonn Lunsford, of McCune, will climb into the chute Thursday for his first bareback ride at the Mini Bareback Riding World Championship.

Lunsford, a seventh grader at Southeast Junior High, started his bareback riding career three years ago, but has been involved in rodeo since he could walk.

“I started out riding sheep when I was three or four,” he said. “My dad and my grandpa made me want to do rodeo.”

Lunsford’s father and grandfather were both bull riders. After sheep, Lunsford moved up to steer riding and then began bareback.

Earlier this year, he became the Risen Ranch Family Rodeo Circuit Champion in steer riding and bareback riding. His victory in the RRFRC qualified him to compete at the Midwest Regional Finals Rodeo in Carthage, Missouri.

Lunsford took first place in bareback riding at the Midwest regional, which qualified him to ride in Vegas.

Lunsford and his family headed to Nevada on Tuesday, where he will compete against 36 other junior mini bareback riders. The competition takes place in the Las Vegas Convention Center during the time of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s National Finals Rodeo. The Mini Bareback Riding World Championship partnered with the Junior National Finals Rodeo to crown a national champion.

Lunsford’s mother Karri said the trip has been surreal so far, and that she’s excited for her son to ride.

“Excited, but always nervous,” Karri Lunsford said. “I start praying as soon as he gets in the chute.”

Lunsford said he has been practicing for the event using a barrel and ropes at home, as well as a bucking machine. His mother said even if he doesn’t win, she is proud that he made it this far.

“It is such a big accomplishment just to make it here,” she said.

Lunsford said many friends and family will be watching him back home, and the event will be televised at a later date on RFD TV. People can also watch the event live on www.FloRodeo.com.

Lunsford is scheduled to start competing at 8 a.m. Thursday. Qualifiers will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, and finals start at 3:15 p.m. Sunday.

Lunsford said he would like to thank his sponsors and everyone that supported him getting to the championship in Las Vegas.

Also competing in Las Vegas is Girard native, Anthony Pike, who finished second at the Midwest regional finals.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.