Gillette rodeo team heads to Casper in the lead

Carrie Stadheim
Wyatt Kammerer rides a saddle bronc at the 2013 Eastern Wyoming College rodeo. Kammerer, from Philip, S.D., is a junior on the Gillette College rodeo team. Courtesy photo by Brian Gauck.
Brian Q Gauck |

The Gillette College Rodeo team swept the region, taking first in both the men’s and women’s divisions this spring. In addition to the several individual competitors who will ride for the Gillette “brand,” four young ladies and six young men will vie for the title of champion “men’s” and “women’s” teams in Casper, Wyo., June 15-21.

According to the official website, more than 400 cowboys and cowgirls representing over 100 colleges and universities will ride, rope, tie and spur, hoping to walk away with a championship title from the 66th annual event.

Gillette’s team will surely be one to watch, as Wyatt Kammerer, a saddle bronc rider from Philip, S.D., said they have been on top since the first rodeo and have remained there throughout the season.

“Its been a really good year, pretty exciting,” said the junior who ended the season in third place in the region in saddle bronc.

The young man who attends school on a rodeo scholarship said he started riding saddle broncs as a senior in high school and has loved it ever since.

“My dad used to ride broncs, I guess he kind of got me started.” Kammerer said that several up and coming bronc riders in his home community would gather every Wednesday night to practice on some Korkow horses they borrowed. “Different guys would show up, there are a lot of South Dakota bronc riders that are pretty good. They are all really good hands and would offer advice at rodeos and stuff too,” he added. The “family” atmosphere of rodeo where competitors help one another is one of his favorite parts of the sport.

Kammerer recalls seeing a couple of big name Harry Vold broncs buck in the short round at the college finals his freshman year. “Painted Valley and Elvis were there, and a lot of other really good ones. It would be cool to get on any one of them,” he said.

Because he was in a car accident earlier this spring, Kammerer has been resting a knee so he won’t get on a horse for a couple weeks. “I’ll take a few weeks off and then probably get on a couple horses before I go to the finals.” He said he plans to practice by competing in local rodeos and hopes to go hard enough this season to have a chance at the Badlands Circuit Finals, the SDRA finals and the NRCA finals.

Kammerer will earn his welding degree this spring from Gillette College but he plans to return next year to focus on business.

He said he has enjoyed competing with his fellow teammates and that heading into the finals in first place is “pretty cool,” and “pretty exciting” to end the year winning the region.

Jessica Cates, the team’s assistant coach said the women’s team will bring four young ladies and six young men to compete for the teams, and several of those athletes qualified to compete in individual events too.

The top two women’s teams and top two men’s teams in the region can compete as a team at the college finals. Chadron State College’s women’s team took a close second with 3,143.33 points following Gillette’s 3155 points. Casper College’s second-place men’s team will compete as well. The ended the season with 4,678.33 points, just behind Gillette with 4,720 points. F