By Melissa Garcia

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado’s high school rodeo community is riding high.

high school rodeo 10pkg transfer frame 60 Colorado High School Rodeo Riding High: Keeps You Motivated

(credit: CBS)

Officials with the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association said participation is at its highest in at least a decade.

One teenager from Littleton was defending his state championship title.

high school rodeo 10pkg transfer frame 360 Colorado High School Rodeo Riding High: Keeps You Motivated

(credit: CBS)

Dillon Gray just started learning the rodeo ropes three years ago.

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia caught up with Gray and his two siblings at the association’s latest competition Saturday.

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(credit: CBS)

The Gray triplets are three of nearly 200 participants in 2018 in the Colorado High School Rodeo.

“A lot of people say (it’s not) a sport. They say it’s a hobby,” Gray said. “They don’t think it takes very much athletic ability to do. But I’d like to see (them) get on a horse and try to not get bucked off for eight seconds. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s a long time.”

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(credit: CBS)

Dillon is one of the best bareback riders in the country and hopes to soon score his second championship title in a row.

For his brother Dalton, the sport is more about friends and family, but the two occasionally butt heads about the competition.

“Sibling rivalries,” Dalton said. “It keeps you motivated.”

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CBS4’s Melissa Garcia interviews Heather Gray. (credit: CBS)

“They’re here together as a team and they perform for a team, but they’re not competing with each other,” said triplets’ mom, Heather. “I think (rodeo training) teaches them a lot of good skills, life lessons, taking care of animals.”

The 17 year olds are all heading off to different Colorado colleges after graduation in spring. Dillon will go south to La Junta on a rodeo scholarship in livestock production.

2018 State Finals will be held on Memorial Day weekend in Craig, Colorado.

Nationals finals will be held in Wyoming in July.

LINK: Colorado State High School Rodeo Association

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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