HEBER CITY — Nights are the worst for Rozin Manning.
That’s when the seizures, that no one can explain, cause his young body to convulse.
“He gets them mostly at night,” said his father Gil Manning. “He’d have them all day long if he wasn’t on his medicine.”
While there are nights, like last night, that he manages 24 hours free from the seizures that are so severe they won’t allow him to get a driver’s license, most nights, he simply deals with the debilitating condition.
The exception, his father has noticed, is when he’s on horseback.
“I’ve seen him have seizures from 11:30 on,” Gil Manning said. “But then he’s out roping until 2 a.m. and he’s fine. Ten minutes after he gets off his horse, he’s having a seizure.”
That is just one of the reasons Gil Manning has no reservations about allowing his son to participate in high school rodeo. Rozin said rodeo is more than just an after-school activity that he participates in for Bryce Valley High.
“That’s just me,” he said, “Rodeo is just part of my life. It’s the challenges I like. But also, I meet a lot more people."
Rozin Manning will participate in team roping and tie-down roping in this week’s Utah high school rodeo finals. Hundreds of teens from around the country earn this opportunity by participating in rodeos throughout the year. This is the second time Manning has qualified for the state finals, which begin with their first competition Wednesday at 10 a.m. There is also a 7 p.m. competition.
Thursday and Friday will have the same schedule for athletes, with the top four qualifying for the National High School Finals Rodeo in July. The top 10 from this week’s events (each athlete participates in two rounds of competition) will participate in another show Saturday at 6 p.m. All performances will be held at the Wasatch County Fairgrounds.
Rozin said he’d like to participate in saddle bronc riding or bull riding, but his father ended that pursuit when he saw him struggling.
“I just seen him falling a step behind,” Gil Manning said. “I was also worried about head injuries.”
Rozin Manning was 7 years old when he started having seizures. Since then, doctors have struggled to control them with medication while they search for an explanation.
“They don’t know what causes it,” Gil Manning said. “They’re pretty severe. If he’s off his medicines, then he can’t function. He could have them every 15 to 20 minutes if he’s off his meds.”
In addition to medication, Rozin undergoes a treatment meant to strengthen the left side of his brain.
“Doctors said his right side dominates his left,” Gil said. “They just don’t understand why it does that.”
Rozin will travel to South Jordan to undergo this treatment in between his competitions on Wednesday morning and his second on Friday night.
Rozin said rodeo allows him to compete, but it also helps him make friends. This week, he probably won’t qualify for nationals, but he’s hoping to do well enough to make Saturday’s championship round.
“I just will try to stay calm and have fun,” Rozin said. “That’s the main thing of it. If you want to try too hard, put too much pressure on, you won’t do very good. If you stay calm, you’ll do just fine.”
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