GRANADA - Next weekend, a 10-year-old from Granada will participate in a national pedal pull competition. It might just be her year to win.
Jayme Balcom earned first place in South Dakota's state competition and third in Iowa's. Both placements earn her a shot for the title at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.
Jayme has been to nationals before, but hasn't placed higher than sixth.
TROPHY?ROOM?— Jayme Balcom poses with her pedal pull trophies in her bedroom in rural Granada.
"This year, she just might be strong enough," says her mom, Mary Balcom.
Jayme participates in tractor pedal pulls four or five times per year. She has competed since she was 4 years old. The fifth of six children, Jayme watched her older siblings pull, and her 8-year-old sister Jenna is following in their footsteps.
"Basically, [Jayme] started because she was thirsty," Mary said. "At the end of the pedal pull, they got a can of pop. It leaped and bounded from there."
To prepare for an event, Jayme just does what she likes to do - rides her bike, plays basketball and soccer, and remains generally active.
Pulling up to 300 pounds with only her legs is simply a means to an end for her.
"I like winning. I like competitions. I like these," she said, gesturing to her 29 trophies.
A pedal pull challenges children up to 12 years old to use their legs to pedal a tractor as far as they can while an attached weight gets heavier and heavier
Jayme's dad, Jay, said the competition can hinge on just a few inches.
But brute force isn't the only way to win, he noted.
"Sometimes the bigger girls don't go as far," he said, adding that Jayme's will to win gives her an edge. "You should see the determination in her face."
She will need that determination if she is to place next weekend.
"Minnesota is dominant at nationals," he said. "She should be in the top three or four in the nation."