Good Sports: Mark Ensalaco

FRESNO, Calif.

"You feel proud of yourself because you hold on tight and you did all that work," said Mark. "When the sheep runs you can feel the wind and it just feels fun."

But physically mature for his age, Mark won't get to compete at this year's Clovis Rodeo.

"There's a weight limit which is for the safety of the animals, and that's understandable, and that's 60 pounds," said his mother, Nicole Ensalaco. "Mark is right at 70. And so he weighs too much. Mark was bummed and he was sad, but he understood."

"I can't mutton bust but I can still come and watch," said Mark.

And he's even got some advice for this year's competitors.

"Well that they hold on tight and don't let go," said Mark.

Outside of the arena, the Dry Creek Elementary first grader is putting his athleticism and energy into karate. He's only been training since January, but Mark already has a yellow belt test in a couple weeks.

"I like to throw the punches and do my kata and do the techniques and stuff," said Mark.

Nicole sees karate as a great outlet for her son to build character.

"He's very good about being focused and doing karate," said Nicole. "And that brings a different kind of courage and maturity that you need."

And now that Mark has outweighed the Mutton Bustin' competition at local rodeos, he will move on up to riding calves, a prospect that already excites him.

"They put a rope on it and you hold on to the rope as long as you can," said Mark. But is it going to be a lot harder? "No. I think I'll still do the same."

And he hopes that is just the next step in the process of achieving his ultimate goal.

"I want to ride bulls and do bareback," said Mark. "That's when you're older."

And that's just fine with mom.

"He has courage and determination," said Nicole. "Those are things that I feel you can't teach someone. He's was just born with them. And it makes me really proud of who he is as a person."

And on Clovis Rodeo weekend, he's one that the locals will be proud to call one of their own.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.