SDSU rodeo team wins big and prepares for College National Finals in June |

SDSU rodeo team wins big and prepares for College National Finals in June

“Just go out there and make a smooth run.” The words of advice cowboy Justin Zwiefel, gives himself before every run have worked well for the 2012 Great Plains Region All-Around Champion. Zwiefel will be competing in tie-down, team roping and steer wrestling during the 63rd College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, WY, June 10-16.

I try to stay calm and not worry about everyone else around me. I just tell myself to be calm and go out there and make a smooth run,” said Zwiefel, 21, a junior Agronomy major at South Dakota State University and farm kid from Burt, IA.

Zwiefel is the third generation in his family to rodeo. He will represent South Dakota State University (SDSU) along with 10 members of the SDSU rodeo team. For the second time in three years, both the men’s and women’s teams received top honors in the Great Plains Region, qualifying them for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).

“After all their hard work, it’s so exciting to see both teams end up at the top and qualify for the CNFR this year,” said Ron Skovly, SDSU Rodeo Program Coach.

Like Zwiefel, Danielle Schubert, 22, also grew up in a family where rodeo was a part of the culture. She started barrel racing in the third-grade and began roping in high school. With only a few weeks left before she rides barrels at the CNFR, the 2012 Animal Science and Agriculture Business graduate spends a few hours each day mentally preparing for the competition.

“While I was in school, I would practice 8 hours a day,” said Schubert, who maintained a 4.0 GPA while taking 21 credits and competing in four events her last semester at SDSU. “Rodeo has definitely taught me how to manage my time.”

She will begin her career as a loan officer for Farm Credit Services of America after the CNFR. Her new employer encouraged her to focus on the rodeo before joining their team in Pierre. Schubert says her rodeo experience came up a lot during the interview process.

“Rodeo also taught me a lot about dedication and working on a team. During my interviews, I brought up rodeo experiences quite a bit,” she said.

Steers for State makes it possible

Because rodeo is a club sport, and receives only minimal funding from the College of Ag and Bio, Skovly says the team’s success also depends heavily on donations and the Steers for State program.

Established in 1963 by Jim Sutton and Sutton Rodeo, Steers for State raises funds through the donation of calves that are fed out by program volunteers and sold at market weight. The Steer’s for State program has a $25,000 yearly budget for scholarships with additional proceeds helping fund the practice and travel expenses for the team.

“Steers for State and our other donors are hugely important to SDSU Rodeo Team,” Zwiefel said. “This is how we get scholarships, how we pay for our travel expenses, and host the Jackrabbit Stampede each year.”

The SDSU Men’s Rodeo Team is the Great Plains Region champions with 726 points while competing in 10 rodeos throughout the five-month season. Qualifying team members include: Justin Zwiefel, Burt, IA, All-Around Champion and Tie-Down Champion as well as the Reserve Steer Wrestling and Reserve Team Roping Champion with partner, Taylor Miller, Hornick, IA; Trevor Hupp, Huron, SD, third, Steer Wrestling and Reserve Champion Tie Down roper; Nick Schwedhelm, Ft. Calhoun, NE, Reserve Champion Bareback Riding, third overall for the All-Around; Bryan Boyle, Correctionville, IA, third in Saddle Bronc Riding; Ross Odde, Mound City, SD, fourth in Saddle Bronc Riding; and Troy Donnelly, Elk Point, SD, third in Team Roping.

The SDSU Women’s Rodeo Team placed second in the Great Plains Region. Qualifying team members include: Taryn Sippel, Pierpont, SD, Reserve Champion, Breakaway Roping; Danielle Schubert, Brainerd, MN, Overall Point’s Leader for Women’s team, Barrel Racing; Meg McPadden, Garretson, SD, Goat Tying; and Twyla Reid, Albion, IL, Breakaway Roping.

– South Dakota State University