Neb. student athletes ride, rope their way to Gillette
The Nebraska High School Rodeo season wrapped up last weekend with the high school finals in Hastings at the Adams County Fairgrounds. Rodeo athletes from across the Cornhusker State competed in two go-rounds on June 16-17 and the short go-round on June 18. 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 Gillette, Wyoming, July 17-23.
Champions from the 2016 Finals are: Mark Kasperbauer, Spalding, boys cutting; Concey Bader, Palmer, girls cutting; Cade Svoboda, Ord, bareback riding; Libby Winchell, Scottsbluff, goat tying; Cody Henderson, Alliance, tie-down roping; Bailey Brown, North Platte, breakaway roping; Boyd Sawyer, Thedford, saddle bronc riding; Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow, pole bending; Cole Hewett, Dunning, steer wrestling; Cooper White, Hershey, and Levi Walter, Wray, Colo. team roping; Brook Jamison, Ashby, barrel racing, and Dillon Micheel, Brewster, bull riding.
The year-end all-around winners were JT Bradley, Brewster (boys), and Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow (girls). Reserve all-around champs were Chase Miller, Broken Bow (boys) and Libby Winchell, Scottsbluff (girls). Rookie of the year went to Mataya Eklund, Valentine, (girls) and Colten Storer, Arthur (boys). The Fort Whitaker Award went to Ty Richardson of Ainsworth, and the V-Bar Sales Men’s Timed Event Trailer was awarded to JT Bradley of Brewster. The 2016-2017 Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen is Josee Saults of Big Springs.
The following are highlights of a few of the champions.
Compared to last year, Bailey Brown, Nebraska High School Breakaway Roping champion, had to work for this year’s title. Her junior year, she came into the state finals in first place and never budged from the spot.
But this year, she came to Hastings trailing Bailey Witt, with something to prove. “I had to work for” the championship, she said. “I wasn’t top dog, and I had to come in and chase it. It made me mature in my roping.”
The eighteen year old North Platte resident threw two loops to catch her first go-round calf. Her second calf was a 3.7 seconds, and her short go-round time was a 3.96.
Her second title was sweeter than her first, she said. “I’ve been through a lot this year, and this title means more than last year’s. I had a lot of struggles this year. I wasn’t roping very good, I was roping calves at the top of the head, breaking barriers, and wasn’t drawing the best. I wasn’t winning a lot, and it got frustrating.” She competed at jackpots till she could get three in a row roped, “and then it came together.”
Being in second place was a good thing. “Last year, I took it for granted. This year, I had things that didn’t go right, and it makes you grow as a person and a roper, and it makes you make good decisions.”
This will be her fourth time to compete at the National High School Finals Rodeo, and the previous three years, she’s caught one calf and missed one. “Hopefully I can get three down this year.”
This fall, Brown will attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne on a rodeo scholarship. Her goal is to be a high school agriculture teacher.
Brown’s dad is Ray Brown, who has a combined twenty-two tie-down roping titles from the Nebraska State Rodeo Association and the Mid-States Rodeo Association. Her mother is Kim Brown.
Cole Hewett is the 2015-2016 Nebraska High School Steer Wrestling champion.
The Dunning cowboy had won three of his last five regular season rodeos and came to Hastings in first place. “That jumped me up in the standings pretty good,” he said. He also competed in the bareback riding at state finals, making a qualified ride on his first horse but bucking off the last two. He ended the year in third place in the bareback riding. This July will be Hewett’s first trip to the National High School Finals, and he has a game plan. “I’ll try to do it like I did at state finals. Hopefully I’ll draw good, and hopefully I know what the steer does and get out good.”
Hewett will attend Odessa (Texas) Community College this fall on a rodeo scholarship. He will major in diesel technology. He graduated from Sandhills Public High School, where he qualified for the state wrestling tournament his junior and senior years and played football. He is the son of Blaine and Jessica Hewett.
Libby Winchell qualified for state finals in three events and left as the Nebraska High School Goat Tying champion.
The Scottsbluff cowgirl’s first run was 9.95 seconds, a sixth place finish, and her second run was a 9.30, a fourth place finish. “I didn’t have the best goats, but I handled them very well,” she said. In the short go-round, she scored first with a time of 7.94.
In the breakaway and barrels, she didn’t have the finals she wanted, not making it back to the short go-round in the breakaway and finishing seventh in the barrels.
This is her second goat tying title; as a freshman, she was state champion and rookie of the year. Her sophomore year, she finished as reserve national champion goat tyer at Nationals.
The daughter of Mike and Shawna, she will be a senior at Scottsbluff High School this fall.
The tie-down roping was a tight race, but after three calves, Cody Henderson won the Nebraska High School Tie-down Roping title.
Henderson trailed Gordon’s Cody Darnell coming into the state finals, but three solid runs put Henderson on top.
The Alliance cowboy placed second on his first calf, then won the second round, and finished the short-go with a solid 14 second run to secure his spot. “I moved to first after the Thursday run,” he said. “The kids behind me stubbed their toes, and yesterday (in the short go-round) all I had to do was get one tied down, and get a time.”
This is the first time in his high school career that Henderson has qualified for Nationals. “I don’t know if it’s set in yet,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true.”
He also competed in the team roping at state finals and finished in nineteenth place.
This fall, he will attend Sheridan (Wyo.) College on a rodeo scholarship and major in ag business.
He is the son of Doug and Sally Henderson.
Brook Jamison is the Nebraska High School Barrel Racing champion.
The Ashby cowgirl placed fourth, second, and fifth, consecutively in the rounds, with times of 18.489, 18.003 and 18.307, respectively.
Her strategy was simple: don’t knock over a barrel. “I just had the game plan to go out and run my best, and keep them all up, because I knew the average points are a big thing at state.” Her horse, Texas, is also a big factor in her success. “He’s really good. He knows the pattern as well as anyone, and he makes my job easy.” The fifteen year old gelding was started by Brook’s dad as a roping horse and then her mother turned him into a barrel horse.
Brook qualified for state not only in the barrels but in the pole bending, team roping, and breakaway, finishing seventh in the poles.
She’s been to Nationals twice, both times in the breakaway roping, and she knows what to do. “I’ll go out there and run as hard as I can. There’s going to be a lot of tough competition and I’m ready for it.”
The daughter of Monte and Lisa Jamison, she will be a senior at Hyannis High School this fall. She is also the newly elected 2016-2017 student president of the association.
Jayde Atkins finished her senior year of high school rodeo with a bang.
The Broken Bow cowgirl is the Nebraska High School Rodeo pole bending champ and the all-around champ as well.
Atkins’ first two pole runs weren’t great, but they got her by. “The ground wasn’t quite ideal,” she said, noting that it was slick. On her second run, her horse hesitated when turning the first pole. “He didn’t turn quite as good. He didn’t know what the ground was going to be like.” She placed fourth and sixth in the first two go-rounds, and then won the short go with a time of 20.958 seconds. “That wasn’t our best run (of the season) but compared to the two before it, I was definitely happy with it.”
Atkins also competed in the barrels, goat tying, breakaway and cutting, and qualified for Nationals in the poles, barrels, cutting, and the reined cowhorse (the reined cowhorse competition was held prior to state finals.) She has been to Nationals all four years, and knows this is her last chance. “I gotta go for it,” she said. “It’s my last year, and I want to keep my barrels and poles up, but I want to make it to the short go.” She was the 2015 National Reserve Reined Cowhorse champion.
She also served as the 2015-2016 student president of the association, and will attend Chadron (Neb.) State College this fall and major in agri-business. She will not rodeo collegiately but will play in the band. “I love rodeo, but we decided to focus on school.” She plans on taking several horses to college and do some futurity barrel racing.
She is the daughter of J.B. and Sonya Atkins.
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.
The complete list of qualifiers for Nationals follows. Final results from the 2016 Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo can be found at http://www.hsrodeo-nebraska.com.
1. Mark Kasperbauer, Spalding
2. JT Bradley, Brewster
3. Lucas Troyer, Beemer
4. Chase Miller, Broken Bow
Alternate – Ty Bass, Brewster
1. Concey Bader, Palmer
2. Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow
3. Grace Wilson, Lincoln
4. Shania Macomber, Whitman
Alternate – Brook Bushhousen, St Libory
1. Cade Svoboda, Ord
2. Trey Seeers, North Platte
3. Cole Hewett, Dunning
4. Ty Richardson, Ainsworth
Alternate – Tyrel Rieker, Lexington
1. Libby Winchell, Scottsbluff
2. Linzie Van Horn, Page
3. Maddee Doerr, Creighton
4. Megan Turek, St Paul
Alternate – Riata Day, Fleming, Colo.
1. Cody Henderson, Alliance
2. Ty Milleson, Dunning
3. Chase Miller, Broken Bow
4. JT Adamson, Cody
Alternate – Bernie Girard, Alliance
1. Bailey Brown, North Platte
2. Brittni McCully, Mullen
3. Maddee Doerr, Creighton
4. Georgie Lage, Arthur
Alternate – Jada Jensen, Bingham
Saddle Bronc Riding
1. Boyd Sawyer, Thedford
2. Clay Brandon, Yuma, Colo.
3. JW Schroder, Taylor
4. Brock Henry, Rushville
Alternate – Trey Seevers, North Platte
1. Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow
2. Hannah Harwager, Stapleton
3. Sydney Schleich, Kersey, Colo.
4. Riata Day, Fleming, Colo.
Alternate – Megan Turek, St Paul
1. Cole Hewett, Dunning
2 (tie) Justin Hilliker, Gordon
2 (tie) Ty Milleson, Dunning
4. (tie) Boyd Sawyer, Thedford
4. (tie) Tyler Ravenscroft, Nenzel
1. Cooper White, Hershey/Levi Walter, Wray, Colo.
2. Gus Franzen, Kearney/Tomas Margritz, Kearney
3. Cody Darnell, Gordon/Morgan Darnell, Gordon
4. Cole Retchless, Bridgeport/Hadly McCormick, Scottsbluff
Alternate – Taylor Whethham, Morrill/Austin Hurlburt, Norfolk
1. Brook Jamison, Ashby
2. Mataya Eklund, Valentine
3. Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow
4. Sydney Adamson, Cody
Alternate – Rachael Calvo, Bassett
1. Dillon Micheel, Brewster
2. Mason Ward, North Platte
3. Dalton Sweley, Blue Hill
4. Afton Bryant, Chadron
Alternate – BJ McAbee, Ansley F
–Adams County Ag Society