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Victoria teen cinches win in Austin calf scramble


April 19, 2011 at midnight
Updated April 18, 2011 at 11:19 p.m.

Randall Nelson, middle, successfully captured a calf during the 2011 Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Calf Scramble. Randall, 14, received a $1,000 voucher to purchase a heifer of his own to show. Names were unavailable for the others pictured.

Cattle on the loose is typically a bad thing. Sometimes it means the fence needs repair while, other times, it means someone left the gate open.

But, for Victoria teen Randall Nelson, it means opportunity.

Randall, 14, won a $1,000 voucher to purchase a heifer after he came out victorious in Austin's Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Calf Scramble.

The teen, who is in eighth grade at Our Lady of Victory School, faced off against his peers during the mid-March event, sprinting, jumping and reaching to grab hold of a calf released in the rodeo arena.

It got chaotic out on the floor, he said, noting some participants were injured during their quest to win.

"I think two people left on stretchers," said Randall, who has shown hogs in previous stock shows.

When it comes to strategy, Randall said he didn't really have one.

It helped that he was in shape, he said, explaining he plays everything from basketball to football and even runs track. But, really, that was about it.

"I just grabbed on and didn't let go," he said with a shrug.

Randall's mother, BJ Nelson, said it was a bit nerve-wracking watching her son go after the released calves.

"It was kind of the same feeling I get when he shows hogs," she said. "You're nervous, but you want him to have a good time and stay safe."

Winning the scramble was just the beginning.

Randall now has until Sept. 15 to find and purchase his heifer. He said he will most likely buy a Brangus, because they fare well in the Texas heat.

In the months that follow, he must feed and care for the animal while also sending monthly reports back to his agriculture teacher.

"I'll show in Victoria, and I have to show in Austin, too," he explained. "After that, I'll probably put it out with my dad's cows."

Raising animals isn't easy, his mother said. It takes work and money, but also teaches children in the process.

"It doesn't matter if it's Christmas, Easter, whatever, the animal still has to eat," she said. "It's a lot of responsibility."

Looking ahead, Randall said he will likely breed his heifer with one of his dad's cows and begin a herd of his own.

For now, though, he's busy preparing for another major event: a mission trip to Belize, where he and his grandfather, along with others in their group, will put a roof on a building.

"I'll be there for a week during Easter break," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."



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