South Dakota youth rodeo athletes work hard at home, pitch in at rodeos |

South Dakota youth rodeo athletes work hard at home, pitch in at rodeos

Hannah Jolman
for Tri-State Livestock News

Justin and Jace Tekrony

For Justin and Jace Tekrony of Clear Lake, South Dakota, competing in High School Rodeo is a part of their families “work hard, play harder” mantra.

“Any rodeo they go to they are always helping sort and push cattle in the back pens,” says Jess Tekrony, their mom. “We’ve always kind of prided ourselves on just making sure they are responsible and take care of the animals and make sure everything gets done.”

Justin, 17, has competed in high school rodeos for three years in steer wrestling, team roping and calf roping.

“I mostly got started when one of my team roping partners from Florence asked me if I wanted to be his header for him,” Justin says. “We roped in 4-H and we actually won the 4-H finals the year before that.”

The boys decided that partnering up for the high school rodeo program would be beneficial after that.

Jace, 15, competes in tie down roping and team roping and is just finishing his first year of high school rodeo, but he competed in 4-H and junior high rodeo for years prior.

Jace Tekrony hustles to the calf. Courtesy photo
Jace Tekrony hustles to the calf. Courtesy photo

Their two younger brothers, Kaden and Kaleb, also rodeo in 4-H and Kaden recently started competing in junior high rodeos.

Together, all four boys help their parents on their farm, feeding cattle and running a custom chopping business where the boys are just as handy, if not handier than any man. They also have their own registered Simmental operation and they raise Boer show goats.

“They show their cattle and their goats, they do all of the 4-H things, they show there and in the open class,” Jess says. “I guess we chose rodeo to do the most though, because it’s such a good environment to raise our kids. Everybody is honest, you know if you leave something at one rodeo, they’ll bring it to you at the next rodeo, you don’t have to worry about things like that. Everybody has their pants pulled up and their belts on and it’s just a good way to raise them.”

Despite almost losing his thumb in his dallies two years ago – it was surgically reattached in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic – Jace hasn’t lost his spark for rodeo and hopes to continue through college rodeo, although that is still a few years down the road. Justin also has high aspiration for college rodeo, although he hasn’t decided where he wants to go yet, and he’s considering trying out some pro rodeos in the future as well.

For now, the brothers say that they will continue to learn and improve their rodeo game, they are thankful to their parents for all of their help, and they plant to continue to work hard, and when it comes to rodeoing, play harder.

Justin heading on Kodi, Jace heeling on Mesa. Courtesy photo
Justin heading on Kodi, Jace heeling on Mesa. Courtesy photo

Isabel Risse

As the youngest of eight children, all who participated in 4-H and High School Rodeo, Isabel Risse has been practicing her rodeo events with her siblings since she was old enough to keep up.

“When she was about six and everybody was out in the arena leaning how to tie goats and rope calves and different things, she was practicing right along with them,” says Joan Risse, Isabel’s mother. “Pretty soon, it was time to fill out entry forms and everybody was filling theirs out and she was like, ‘Well where’s mine?’ so we had to tell her that she had to wait two more years before she could enter in the 4-H rodeo.”

Isabel has been ready to rodeo ever since. She started with 4-H rodeos and with a lot of practice and coaching, has proved herself to be successful: Reserve Champion Junior Girls Goat Tying at the South Dakota State 4-H Finals in 2017 and the following year, she placed 4th in the State 4-H Finals in the Senior Girls Breakaway.

Isabel and Blue chase down a goat. Photo by Bev Byrne
Isabel and Blue chase down a goat. Photo by Bev Byrne

“My dad and my mom spend time with me in the practice pen or on the front lawn practicing and they haul me to all my rodeos,” Isabel says. Her siblings are also there to help her practice her goat tying and breakaway roping. “My older brother makes time to help me practice and get ready for upcoming rodeos and my older sister and my dad critique my runs and push me to practice to help me get better.”

Rodeo for the Risse family has always been a family affair. Because her extended family lives nearby on the family black Angus cattle ranch, everybody would come down to the arena and practice together.

“She has cousins close by, so at night time, the arena was full of kids and aunts and uncles, coaching and helping them out,” Joan says.

And even though Isabel is the last one in High School Rodeo, that doesn’t stop the extended family from still being involved.

“My aunt tries to make it to every rodeo and if she can’t, she calls to see how I did,” Isabel says. “I’m very thankful for all the support that my family and friends have given me.”

Just as Isabel’s family is helping her along, the Risse family is known in their region for being willing to help anyone out when it comes to rodeo, something that Joan credit’s to her husband’s family.

“Rocky’s family has always been a part of rodeo, so as you meet kids through this whole rodeo world, you’re constantly looking to help all those kids and it’s so fun to watch them start out as freshman and see them grow and learn and by the time they’re seniors, see how much they’ve improved,” Joan says. “So it’s that type of an attitude and just stepping in and helping whenever anyone needs it.”

This year has been Isabel’s first year of High School Rodeo with two more rodeos left for the season: the Sturgis Regional Rodeo and the State High School Rodeo in Belle Fourche, and with lofty goals of competing in college rodeo when the time comes, she won’t be leaving the sport any time soon.

Isabel, Justin, Jace and many more young South Dakota rodeo athletes will be at the Roundup Rodeo Grounds in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, June 11-16 for the 70th Annual South Dakota High School Rodeo Association Finals.

Isabel Risse appreciates support from many family members. Courtesy photo
Isabel Risse appreciates support from many family members. Courtesy photo

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