Nebraska youth qualify for nat’l high school rodeo competition |

Nebraska youth qualify for nat’l high school rodeo competition

The dust has settled, the stalls and parking lot are emptied of horses and trailers, and champions for the 2013-2014 Nebraska State High School Rodeo Association have been determined. The Adams County Fairgrounds, at Hastings, Neb. hosted the three-day event, which ran June 19-21. 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 13-19.

Champions from the 2014 Finals are: Rowdy Moon, Sargent, bareback riding; Seth Cumpton, Lewellen, boys cutting; Libby Winchell, Scottsbluff, goat tying; Jordyn Doetker, Wauneta, girls cutting; Laree Painter, Long Pine, barrel racing; Cody Nye, Alliance, tie-down roping; Charmayne Strong, Rushville, pole bending; Triston Eklund, Valentine, saddle bronc riding; Brandy Schaack, Hyannis, breakaway roping; Devin Dibbern, Riverdale, steer wrestling; Cooper White, Hershey, and Levi Walter, Wray, Colo., team roping; and Ethan Lesiak, Clarks, bull riding.

The following are highlights of a few of those champions.

Goat tying champion Libby Winchell is just getting a good start on her high school rodeo career. The Scottsbluff resident just finished her freshman year of high school, and competed at her first state finals rodeo in the barrel racing and breakaway roping as well. But high school rodeo isn’t new to her. When her older sister Shelby competed, Libby tagged along. “My sister was in high school rodeo, so I went along with her to all of them. I kind of knew what to expect, but it was a little different competing.”

It runs in the family for the Winchells. Shelby, the 2009 state goat tying champion, just won the reserve goat tying title at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.

Libby faces a daily challenge: chronic migraine headaches. The migraines are with her every day. “I have one all the time. When I wake up, I have one, and when I go to sleep, I have one.” Doctors can’t find a cause, but have prescribed medication that seems to help. The higher humidity in Hastings, compared to her home in Scottsbluff, caused them to be worse, but she’s learned to deal with the pain.

Libby is also the 2014 Rookie of the Year. She is the daughter of Mike and Shawna Winchell.

Charmayne Strong ended her high school rodeo career on a high note.

The Rushville cowgirl, the 2014 pole bending champion, has qualified for National High School Finals four times and the National Junior High Finals three times.

The senior, who graduated from Gordon-Rushville High School, has a unique workout. She took up boxing after her high school basketball coach suggested it. “I was short and uncoordinated,” she laughed,

“and I was always falling down during basketball. They called me the human mop because I was always on the ground.” She has gone to a few boxing competitions, but mostly boxes for fun, and it’s helped her, she says. “It puts you in good shape. I’m probably in the best shape ever. It gives you good leg and upper arm strength, and makes you stronger and leaner.”

Charmayne has earned a full tuition waiver for her freshman year at Chadron State College, where she will rodeo collegiately and work towards a veterinary degree. She will also continue to box.

In high school, she was active in FFA, was a member of Student Council, and on the honor roll. She is the daughter of Bernard and Dr. Terry Beguin-Strong.

Devin Dibbern, Riverdale, is the 2014 steer wrestling champion.

The 17 year old cowboy will be a senior at Amherst High School this fall, and competed in the team roping, tie-down roping and saddle bronc riding at finals as well.

He finished second in the state in the saddle bronc riding and will represent Nebraska in both events at the National High School Finals next month.

In high school, Devin is FFA sentinel, is on the honor roll, plays football, and qualified for state wrestling three years, finishing third place this past year in the 162 lb. division in Class D.

He has three older brothers: Bryce, Colin and Logan. Bryce, a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, competed at the College National Finals Rodeo last week. Colin and Logan are his triplet brothers; both of them also competed at state finals.

He is the son of Billy and Karen Dibbern.

Rowdy Moon, Sargent, is the 2014 bareback riding champion.

The junior at Sargent High School has qualified for state finals for three years, and the National High School Finals three years, finishing last year tenth in the nation.

The Moon name is familiar in rodeo. Rowdy’s oldest brother, Buck, is a bull rider, and older brother, Cody, ropes. And at state finals, Rowdy had another job besides riding bareback horses. He worked as bullfighter during the bull riding. This is his third year as a bullfighter, which he also does for amateur rodeos across the state.

In high school, he plays football, wrestles, is a member of the quiz bowl team and National Honor Society, and is on the honor roll.

He is the son of Casey and Sandra Moon.

For Cody Nye, the 2014 state finals was the fulfillment of his expectations.

The 2014 tie-down roping champion finished the 2012 and 2013 years in second place, and finally won the title as a senior. That was his game plan: “it was expected,” he said, “but it did feel good.”

This fall, the Alliance resident will be a freshman at Gillette (Wyo). College, where he will study business management and compete in collegiate rodeo. After Gillette, he will get his bachelor’s degree in ag business and come back to the Alliance area, where he hopes to work in real estate or the insurance field.

In high school, Cody was on the honor roll and a member of the National Honor Society. He served as vice-president among student directors for the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association.

He is the son of Barry and Gretchen Nye.

Triston Eklund repeats as the saddle bronc riding champion.

The Valentine cowboy won the title last year and this year, and was runner-up in 2012.

He competed in the tie-down roping and steer wrestling at state finals as well.

He’s walking in the footsteps of his uncle, Matt Elliott, who won the high school saddle bronc riding title in the late 1990s, and to whom he turns to for advice. “He’s given me tips in about everything,” Triston said, including roping and riding horses. Matt used to ride saddle broncs professionally and now tie-down ropes.

Triston, who graduated from Valentine High School this spring, was involved in FFA, wrestling, and football. He qualified for state wrestling and placed twice.

This fall, he will attend Central Wyoming College in Riverton, on a rodeo scholarship.

His younger sister, Mataya, will compete at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Des Moines this week, in the barrel racing and ribbon roping.

He is the son of Jarred Eklund and Misti Brown.

Ethan Lesiak, Clarks, is the 2014 bull riding champion.

He’s qualified for state finals all four years in the bull riding, finishing tenth his freshman year, runner-up his sophomore year, and in third place last year.

Riding bulls takes a lot of practice, he said. “You can’t just go out there and ride a bull. You have to put a lot of work and practice and dedication and hard work into it.” Ethan’s title is an example of that. “It shows that hard work and dedication pays off.”

He’s had a passion for bull riding since he was young. “Since I could walk, I’ve wanted to ride bulls.” He started riding sheep, then graduated to calves, steers, and mini bulls, and “the next step was the big bulls, and that’s where I am now.”

He’s earned a rodeo scholarship to Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, where he will continue to ride bulls, and major in agribusiness.

As a student at Fullerton High School, he started on the football team all four years, making all-district defense and all-state honorable mention. He was active in FFA, vice-president of Student Council, and a member of the National Honor Society.

He is the son of Kevin Lesiak and Trista Engel.

The year-end all-around winners were Jayde Atkins, Broken, Bow, (girls) and Tanner Stec, Bassett (boys). Rookie of the year went to Libby Winchell, Scottsbluff (girls) and Cody Darnell, Gordon (boys).

The Fort Whitaker Award went Devin Dibbern, Riverdale. The 2014-2015 Nebraska State High School Rodeo Queen is Madison Clark, Wellfleet.

For the 2013-2014 year end rankings, visit For more information on the state finals and national finals, visit,, and