Number ones in the Badlands Circuit come to Minot for the circuit finals rodeo
Minot, N.D. (September 30, 2019) – Minot, North Dakota turns into “rodeo central” this week when ninety cowboys and cowgirls from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho descend upon the Magic City.
Over $200,000 is up for grabs when the RAM Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo, hosted by the Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo, takes place October 4-6 at the State Fair Center.
The top twelve qualifiers in each event, after the pro rodeo season ended on Sept. 2, move on to the Badlands Circuit Finals. After the circuit finals ends, the year-end winner and the winner from the weekend go on to the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, held in Kissimmee, Florida April 2-5, 2020.
A Nebraskan-turned South Dakotan leads the bareback riding standings coming into Minot.
Nate McFadden, who now lives in Somerset, S.D., has won $6,200 on the year. He had a good start to the rodeo season, winning money at nearly every circuit rodeo he went to. Then, a week after winning first place at Belle Fourche, S.D., he broke his wrist at a rodeo in Estes Park, Colo.
One surgery, one plate, two screws, two pins, and twelve weeks later, he’s cleared to ride again. He hasn’t ridden since the accident, so the first horse he’ll get on after the injury will be in Minot. This is the second time the 27-year-old has qualified for the Badlands Circuit Finals.
A circuit finals win has been on the top of the list for steer wrestler Eli Lord, Sturgis, S.D.
Even though he’s qualified for the circuit finals seven times, he’s never won the year-end or average title.
“This year, (winning the circuit finals) is one of my big goals,” he said.
The 25-year-old won Rodeo Rapid City in January and Belle Fourche in July. He also won money at rodeos in Newtown and Dickinson, N.D., and Clear Lake, S.D., among other wins.
He is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico State University in Portales with a degree in elementary education.
He has also qualified for the circuit finals in the team roping as a header, in second place behind Jon Peek.
Team ropers Jon Peterson, Belle Fourche, S.D., and Trae Smith, Georgetown, Idaho, had a plan this year.
They decided to college rodeo together, as classmates at Gillette (Wyo.) College, and thought they might as well rodeo the summer prior to college.
This is the first Badlands Circuit Finals qualification for both of them, after having met four years ago at a roping.
At Gillette, Peterson, who is 21 years old, is majoring in ag business.
Smith, who is 19 years old, began his freshman year of college this fall. He will major in business management with the goal of becoming an accountant. At the 2018 National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Smith won the team roping heading and the tie-down roping.
Tie-down roper Trey Young, Dupree, S.D., comes into the finals with a commanding lead over the number two man, Joe Schmidt.
He’s more than $9,300 ahead of the competition, and it’s aboard his eleven-year-old sorrel, Fozzy, who was the 2018 Badlands Circuit Tie-down Horse of the Year.
When he’s not on the rodeo trail, Young runs a commercial herd of black Angus cattle with his dad.
This is the fifth time Young has qualified for the circuit finals. Two years ago, he finished as the year-end winner.
Barrel racer Jessica Routier had a wonderful rodeo year in 2018, and it continues this year.
Last year, she qualified for her first ever Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), the ten-day rodeo in Las Vegas where world champions are crowned. There, she wound up second in the world when all the dollars and seconds were tallied.
This year, she’s headed for her second WNFR, sitting in eighth place, while she rides into the Badlands Circuit Finals in first place.
She’s partnered with her eight-year-old palomino, Fiery Miss West, “Missy,” a horse Routier calls “phenomenal.” She started the horse at futurities as a five-year-old , then a year later, Routier planned on seasoning her, getting her started slowly at rodeos. But that year, Routier won the Badlands Circuit barrel racing championship on the palomino. The horse has been “really solid and consistent from day one,” she said.
Missy has matured this year, Routier said. “She got more confident in herself. She used to run and wait for me to tell her where to turn. Now she’s taking the initiative to figure things out on her own, which has made me have to change how I ride. Other than that, she’s the most consistent horse you’ll find. It’s easy to ride that kind because you always know what to expect.”
Routier loves running at Minot. “It’s something I really look forward to, and it’s one of my goals to go there every year.” The arena is small which presents its own barrel racing challenges, but she doesn’t mind. “It makes it a challenge to make four clean runs (not knocking down a barrel.)”
Routier comes into the finals with more than $23,000 won, nearly $5,000 more than the number two barrel racer Nikki Hansen.
In the bull riding, Jeff Bertus leads the pack at the Badlands Circuit Finals.
This is the ninth consecutive qualification for the Avon, S.D. man, who is thankful he has stayed healthy for much of the rodeo season, except for a recurring shoulder injury.
He’s been wearing a brace to keep the shoulder from dislocating, and plans on scheduling surgery after the circuit finals to get it fixed.
Bertus is consistent: in the last nine years, he’s been the Badlands Circuit year-end champion three times and the finals champion five times. But he’s humble. “I just try to take the same approach every time,” he said, “one bull at a time, focusing on being there for eight seconds, and let the rest take care of itself.”
Saddle bronc rider JJ Elshere comes into the finals in first place in his event, and in the breakaway roping, a new event for Minot, Samantha Jorgensen of Watford City, N.D. leads the cowgirls.
The rodeo takes place at the State Fair Center October 4-6, with 7 pm performances on Oct. 4-5, a 1 pm matinee on Oct. 5, and a 1:30 pm show on Oct. 6.
Tickets are available online at http://www.MinotYsMensRodeo.com, at the Minot Family YMCA Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, and at the gate. They range in price from $8 to $33.
For more information, visit the website or the Facebook page.
–Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News