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Vassallo Interviews: Michael Todd Merchant, Ninth Grader on World Stage

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Michael Todd Merchant has recently proven that even a 13-year-old can make a difference if he or she is focused on attaining excellence.

Michael finished fifth in the world competition for steer bareback riding held in Des Moines. Participants representing the US, Australia and Canada in grades 6 to 8 were competing against Michael. Here are his insights.

HottyToddy.com: Michael, tell us how you developed this interest.

Michael Merchant: I was greatly influenced by my father (Mike Merchant Sr. owns Wildlife Resolutions) who was national collegiate champion in 1985 representing UT Martin (the school Ole Miss opens the 2015 football season.)

HottyToddy.com: Can this be a dangerous sport?

Michael Merchant: Definitely. It’s not a question of getting hurt, only when. While in the fifth grade I was stepped on, but fortunately no broken bones.

Michael Todd

HottyToddy.com: How is the scoring in the competition compiled?

Michael Merchant: You are judged on how well you ride and the degree of bucking by the animal. You must remain on board for 6 seconds.

HottyToddy.com: What is the most difficult aspect of performing well?

Michael Merchant: Staying on. You need to remain as erect as possible to score.

HottyToddy.com: How did you qualify for the nationals?

Michael Merchant: I won the reserve championship in Arkansas which placed me in the top four in the state qualifying me for the national competition.

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HottyToddy.com: What was your prize for finishing fifth?

Michael Merchant: I won a scholarship and a championship trophy.

HottyToddy.com: Just entering high school, do you plan on continuing competing?

Michael Merchant: Yes I do. Currently I am thinking in terms of winning a full scholarship to a college in advancing my skill.

HottyToddy.com: What can you tell us about the steers?

Michael Merchant: These animals are two-year-olds that were raised for bucking.

HottyToddy.com: What did you learn from the competition or come away with?

Michael Merchant: I loved the opportunity to compete against the best of the best cowboys worldwide. I learned that if you truly believe in yourself, anything is possible.

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Michael focused on the end prize initiated by the National High School Rodeo Association in enhancing his skills and competitive spirit. It is so refreshing in this turbulent world in which we live to observe a young man determined to make his mark on his chosen hobby/profession of interest. Finishing fifth out of a field of 1100 on the world stage is an incredible accomplishment especially for an incoming freshman at Lafayette County High School!

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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