Monday, October 3, 2022
Cowboy heaven as athletes descend on Fort Pierre for biggest show of the summer
Grady Aasby of Highmore got a time of 21.17 during the steer wrestling competition during the second performance of the Winner Regional High School Rodeo on Saturday at the Tripp County Fairgrounds in Winner.
Rodney Haas - 605 Sports
Jun 14, 2022

By Rich Winter

605 Sports

FORT PIERRE — Over the next five days between 8-10,000 people are expected to attend the 73rd annual South Dakota High School Rodeo Association Finals Rodeo. The quiet little town of Fort Pierre (population 2,487) will swell to the size of Spearfish as the summer’s biggest high school rodeo draws center stage this week. 

South Dakota High School Rodeo Association Executive Secretary Ann Sunderman said this event is such a big deal for the majority of the athletes. 

“Quite honestly this is the biggest rodeo that most of these kids will participate in,” she said. “Some kids will go to nationals but for the majority of these kids it’s a really big deal. The Saturday session with kids trying to qualify for nationals is awesome.” 

Getting ready for the big show is an all-year process as the Board of Directors, the Post Committee’s from Fort Pierre and Pierre have regular meetings to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. 

“We have between 50 and 75 people that help plan this event,” Sunderman said. “We also have volunteers that help in and out of the arena and quite a few that just show up and help.” 

For a third consecutive year, fans and athletes will be able to watch themselves on a big screen provided by River Bluff Custom Homes. 

“We have some fun things this year like a corn hole tournament this year, and we’ve had basketball in the past,” Sunderman said.

Other performances throughout the week include a cancer survivors segment, the Michael Glynn Memorial Performance, an opening for military and first responders and a Tribal Recognition Program to recognize the Native American participants. 

The last few years have been hard on the participants in the Special Olympics Rodeo as COVID-19 slowed participation in 2020. Temperatures above 100 degrees last year kept some athletes home. Sunderson noted the Special Olympics are back this year although temperatures are expected to be near triple digits for that event. 

Athletes qualified for this week’s state finals by competing in two regional rodeos. Points from the regional rodeos are carried forward and added to points scored during the state finals. When the dust clears from each event, the top-four point scorers advance to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming, on July 17-23. 

Athletes to watch in their respective events

Bareback riding: With two regional rodeos under his belt, Belle Fourche’s Cayden Wolfe leads all contenders with 40 points. Kashton Ford of Sturgis is just behind with 39 points with Taylon Carmody of Mobridge at 36 and Clear Lake’s Devin Moore at 30 points. 

Barrel Racing: The barrel racing field is loaded with quality athletes, headlined by Lainey Crago of Belle Fourche who leads the field with 36 points. Aurora’s Keylee Zancanella enters the finals with 31 points, Piper Cordes of Wall and Makenzee Wheelhouse of Pierre each have 30 points. Landry Haugen of Sturgis, Shelby Derner of New Underwood and Shada Beeston of Wagner are just behind the points leaders. 

Breakaway Roping: Newell’s Acelyn Brink has 36 points, just ahead of Cassidy Schuelke of Opal with 34. Charlie Henwood of Belle Fourche has 28 points. Summer Beeson from Wagner and any number of competitors from the River Region will contend for those top-four positions. 

Bull Riding: Jestyn Woodward of Custer leads the field with 38 points. Huron’s Tate Meyer, Letcher’s Mason Moody and Trail City’s Mark Sandquist all have 29 points. Keep an eye on Hereford’s Thane Elshere (26.5) and Colome’s Riley Shippy (20). 

Boys cutting: Caden Stoddard of Norris and Trey Fuller of Faith lead the pack with 38 points. Blunt’s Paden Belkham (36.5), Belle Fourche’s Rance Bowden (36.5) and Enning’s Jakob Long (36) are right behind. 

Goat Tying: Jaysee Jones of Howes leads the field with 38 points, followed closely by Michaela McCormick of Salem (36), Bailey Verhulst of Reva (32), Layne Stevens of St. Lawrence (30) and Whitewood’s Taylor Price (29)

Girls Cutting: Huron’s Victoria Buffington and Landry Haugen of Sturgis lead the pack with 39 points. Alzada, Montana’s Dallie Lawrence (38) is just ahead of Kimball’s Sydney Stahl, Layne Stevens and Tolstoy’s Emily Shack who all have 36 points. 

Pole Bending: Buffalo’s Aspen Vining leads the pole bending with 38 points, followed closely by T. Merrill of Wall (37). Reata Hayes of Newell (32) and Tricia Lammers of Orient (30) should factor into that competition. 

Reined Cow Horse: Alzada, Montana’s Dallie Lawrence and Camp Crook’s Dawson Kautzman lead with 38 points. Smithwick’s Gabe Glines leads with 36.5 points followed by Huron’s Victoriah Bugginton (36).

Saddle Bronc Riding: Faith’s Trayvon Martin (39.5) and Burke’s Mason Hood (38) have the two highest-point totals. Lake Andes cowboy Christopher Nelson has 30 points while Newell’s Cade Costello enters the state finals with 20 points. 

Steer Wrestling: Buffalo’s Grey Gilbert has been nearly flawless in the two regional rodeos scoring a combined 40 points. Long Valley’s Denton Good is in prime shape with 32 points. Presho’s Teagan Gourneau (30) and Reliance’s Swade Reis (28), along with Hartford’s Chase Olson (25) and Scotland’s Kade Owens (20) are all in good positions. 

Team Roping: The team of Brylee Grubb (Spearfish) and Josh Womack (Newcastle, Wyoming) enter the state finals with 38 points. Martin’s Jade Byrne and Kadoka’s Dalton Porch enter with a score of (29) while Seth Gaikowski of Waubay and Conner Herren of Crooks have 24 points. Tate and Tyan Johnson of Sisseton have 23 points between their two regional rodeos. 

Tie Down Roping: Conner Herren of Crooks (38) leads Belle Fourche’s Rance Bowden (37) as the state finals begin. Dalton Porch of Kadoka (32) and Mason Moody of Letcher (26) could factor in the top four.