Nebraska youth qualify for National HS Rodeo
The dust has settled, the stalls and parking lot are emptied of horses and trailers, and champions for the 2014-2015 Nebraska State High School Rodeo Association have been determined. The Adams County Fairgrounds hosted the three-day event, which ran June 18-20. The top four contestants in each of twelve events were determined, and they go on to compete at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 12-18.
Champions from the 2015 Finals are: Rowdy Moon, Sargent, bareback riding; Mark Kasperbauer, Spalding, boys cutting; Maddee Doerr, Creighton, goat tying; Sydney Bushhousen, St. Libory, girls cutting; Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow, barrel racing and pole bending; Ty Milleson, Dunning, tie-down roping; Colin Dibbern, Riverdale, saddle bronc riding; Bailey Brown, North Platte, breakaway roping; Riley Wakefield, O’Neill, steer wrestling; Riley Wakefield, O’Neill, and Cody Darnell, Gordon, team roping; and Garrett Wickett, Battle Creek, bull riding.
The following are highlights of a few of those champions.
Bull riding champion Garrett Wickett wrapped up his high school rodeo career with a state title. The cowboy, who graduated from Pierce High School last month, is a second generation bull rider, with a dad and uncles who also rode bulls. He came into the finals knowing he had to ride at least two of his three bulls to get it done. He bucked off his first-round bull but came back to ride his second round and short go bulls. In the short go, the bull nearly had him bucked off. He “switched directions, and when he switched away from my hand, I was hanging off the side of him,” Garrett said. “All you can see (in the picture) is my foot on his back. My dad said, whatever you do, don’t let go till you hear the whistle.”
This will be the second year for Garrett to qualify for the National High School Finals, and he’s looking for a bit of redemption; he got bucked off all of his bulls in Rock Springs last year. “I have this year to win the national title,” he said, “and that’s my goal.”
Garrett, who participated in wrestling, FFA, 4-H and was on the honor roll in high school, will attend Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte this fall and ride bulls collegiately while he majors in agri-business. He is the son of Faron Wickett and Brandi Minerich.
The 2015 Nebraska state goat tying champion Maddee Doerr has been thinking about a half-point since last June. Last year, she finished state finals in second place in the goat tying, a half-point from the championship.
This year, she made it count, making a 9.4 second time on her first run, 10.2 on her second run, and 11.11 in the short go-round to win the title.
The home-schooled sophomore lives in Creighton and went to National High School Finals last year, finishing twenty-ninth in the nation. She rides a nine year old gray horse named Rhino who “is kind of a pain in the butt sometimes,” Maddee said. “He’s pushy but he does his job.”
She is the daughter of Eric and Monica Doerr.
Jayde Atkins finished her junior year of high school as the barrel racing, pole bending and all-around champion. The Broken Bow cowgirl, who will be a senior this fall, is a member of her school’s FCA, Art Club, Student Council, and plays basketball and softball and runs track. She is also a member of her school’s jazz band and loves accounting classes. This will be her third trip to the National High School Finals next month, and in addition to the barrels and poles, she’ll also compete in the cutting. She is the daughter of J.B. and Sonya Atkins.
The Nebraska High School Saddle Bronc Riding title went to Colin Dibbern, Riverdale. The eighteen year old cowboy is one of triplets, and Colin will have company at Nationals: he will team rope with brother Devin in Rock Springs (the boys finished third at state), Devin will also ride saddle broncs there (he finished third) and Devin and Logan will also wrestle steers there. Their oldest brother, Bryce, a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is the newly elected student president of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. Their parents are Billy and Karen Dibbern.
For the second year in a row, the state bareback riding title went to Rowdy Moon. The Sargent, Neb. cowboy also works as a bullfighter at high school rodeo events, and worked the rodeo in Hastings. He graduated from Sargent Public School last month as salutatorian and will attend Mid-Plains Community College this fall, where he will compete in the college ranks. He is the son of Casey and Sandra Moon.
Breakaway roping champion Bailey Brown knows that hard work leads to success, and this year is evidence. After finishing second in the breakaway her freshman year, and third last year, she finally got to the number one spot. “All the hard work has finally paid off,” she said. Bailey practices four or five days a week, usually in the evenings after school, but during the summer, in the early morning hours before it gets hot. And it’s not just her in the practice pen. Her dad, Ray, her aunt Jan Brown, and her nine year old cousin Clancy join her. Clancy is just beginning to breakaway rope, and “it’s exciting to be able to rope with her,” Bailey said.
Bailey will be a junior at Maywood High School this fall, where she plays volleyball and basketball and is a member of her school’s honor roll and the National Honor Society. She was also president of her school’s FFA chapter. After she graduates from high school, she’d like to attend college in a southern state, like Texas, where the roping competition is better, and she’d like to study to be an ag teacher. She is the daughter of Ray and Kim Brown.
Riley Wakefield left Hastings with three titles: team roping champion (along with header Cody Darnell of Gordon), steer wrestling champion, and all-around hand. It was a good ending for the O’Neill cowboy, who graduated from O’Neill High School in May. He came into the team roping in first place, and after he and Darnell won the second round, had the title clinched. In the steer wrestling, consistency was the key. He won the short go-round to win the title.
Wakefield also qualified in the tie-down roping, but that event didn’t go so well. He broke the barrier in the second round, and needed to win the short round to qualify for Nationals, but that didn’t happen.
This will be the fourth time Wakefield has qualified for the National High School Finals, but the first time he’ll go in the steer wrestling. Team roping is his strength, but not his favorite event. “It’s my best event, but it’s not my favorite,” he said. He and his older brother Brady won the reserve team roping title in 2010 at Nationals.
This fall he and Brady will rope together again at Gillette (Wyo.) College. Brady will be a junior this fall, and Riley will major in education. He’d like to work with elementary kids, or teach Spanish or physical education; at this point, he’s not sure.
Wakefield is competing in the PRCA already, and plans on pro rodeoing during his college years.
He is the son of Jim and Susan Wakefield.
The year-end all-around winners were Jayde Atkins, Broken, Bow, (girls) and Riley Wakefield, O’Neill (boys). Rookie of the year went to Morgan Kessler, Callaway, (girls) and Chase Miller, Broken Bow (boys). For the second year in a row, the Fort Whitaker Award went Devin Dibbern, Riverdale. The 2015-2016 Nebraska State High School Rodeo Queen is Isabelle Ritz, Comstock.
For the 2015-2016 year end rankings, visit http://hsrodeo-nebraska.com/rodresults/rgn1ev.htm. For more information on the state finals and national finals, visit http://www.AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com, http://www.hsrodeo-nebraska.com, and http://www.nhsra.com.