Hastings College rodeo coach Justen Nokes wins 2017 Great Plains Region College Rodeo Coach of the Year award | TSLN.com

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Hastings College rodeo coach Justen Nokes wins 2017 Great Plains Region College Rodeo Coach of the Year award

Hastings College rodeo coach Justen Nokes poses with the buckle he won as the 2017 Great Plains Region College Rodeo Coach of the Year. Photo by Ashley Nokes

Hastings, Neb. — Hastings College rodeo coach Justen Nokes has been awarded the Great Plains Region College Rodeo Coach of the Year.

The Juniata man has been at the helm of the Hasting College rodeo team since the college started the club eight years ago. Winning the award "caught me off guard," Nokes said. "I didn't expect it one bit."

His team this year consisted of 18 students, with two of them — Nolan Sybrant, Bassett, and Marshal Peterson, Ashland — winning titles in the Great Plains region. In the region, Sybrant finished first in the tie-down roping to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo and Peterson finished fourth in the tie-down roping and fourth in the team roping (heading) to win the all-around. Peterson will compete in both of his events at the CNFR.

In his eight years as college coach, Nokes has had two other students qualify for the CNFR: steer wrestlers Richard Coats, Hastings (2013-2014) and Tom Littell, Elm Creek, (2016).

“I’ve had a lot of titles, but this one is special. To be voted on by your peers, it’s fun.” Justen Nokes, Hastings College rodeo coach

The 2016-17 school year was supposed to be the last for the Hastings College rodeo team, due to financial constraints, but support from donors, namely Industrial Irrigation, have given the team one more year.

Nokes said he enjoys seeing the rodeo athletes progress throughout their college career.

"Watching them mature, inside and outside the arena, is very satisfying," he said. "It's really rewarding to see them obtain the goals they've set, with rodeo and outside of rodeo."

Nokes is an accomplished cowboy, having won multiple titles in the steer wrestling, team roping and all-around in the Nebraska State Rodeo Association, the Mid-States Rodeo Association, and the Kansas Pro Rodeo Association, but winning the coaching title means more to him.

"I've had a lot of titles, but this one is special," he said. "To be voted on by your peers, it's fun."

Nokes continues to compete in the steer wrestling and team roping.

The Great Plains region is one of 11 regions that make up the National Inter-Collegiate Rodeo Association. The Great Plains region consists of 12 colleges and universities in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota: Mid-Plains Community College (North Platte); Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.); University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Dickinson (N.D.) State University; Iowa Central Community College (Ft. Dodge); South Dakota State University (Brookings); North Dakota State University (Fargo); Mitchell (S.D.) Technical Institute; Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (Curtis); Iowa State University (Ames); the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Hastings College. F