By John Lauritsen

MAYNARD, Minn. (WCCO) — On the edge of Maynard, Minnesota, you’ll find a teenager wearing boots, a belt buckle and a braided pony tail.

Sixteen-year-old Laurel Andol is a country girl through and through. Rodeo is in her blood. But while barrel racing is fun, bull riding is a complete rush.

“I critique myself a lot,” Laurel said. “I keep telling myself I should have been up further on my bull rope. I should have spurred here. I should have hung on a little further here.”

Spoken like a veteran bull rider, but Laurel has only been doing this since last year. It all started at the Maynard rodeo.

“I decided I was going to hop on a bull,” Laurel said. “My dad said, ‘OK, you want to hop on?’ So I did. I wasn’t thinking, I just rode it. Then when I hopped off I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to do this again.’”

“She jumped on and after 12 seconds we started yelling at her to get off because you are only supposed to ride them for 8,” said Laurel’s dad, Derek. “Ever since then she’s been hooked.”

That means travelling with her dad to northern Minnesota to compete in a male-dominated sport. But as the boys have quickly learned, Laurel has taken a “no bull” approach to winning. She’s won five out of six competitions this year.

“She’s not afraid,” Derek said. “I mean, one of my friends was helping here pull her rope and the bull was kind of banging her up in the shoot- and he said to me later, boy, she’s not afraid of anything he said.”

“I wasn’t surprised,” said Laurel’s mom, Karen. “She’s the kind of gal that likes to do something different, off the wall.”

Laurel has taken notice of the crowds.

“I just love listening to the crowd,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

The crowds, in turn, have taken notice of her. People now ask for autographs and pictures. Laurel obliges — even when she’s banged up.

“There was a girl that came up and wanted to take her picture and get her autograph and all of the sudden the pain went away,” Derek said. “She got on the next day and won after being injured on the first one.”

For Laurel, life is a rodeo.

She has no plans to get off the saddle or get off the bull. When it comes to her dream, she’s holding on as tight as she can.

“I just want to be out there and ride to show what I’ve got and to encourage other girls to do it because it’s a lot of fun,” Laurel said. “Just go out there and do it. Get ‘er done!”

Laurel’s next step is to go from junior bull competitions to open bull riding.

Her family wants to thank other rodeo families for all the support Laurel has received.

John Lauritsen

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