High School Rodeo action [Photo: Amy Lelm]
Valley City hosted the ‘Fargo’ North Dakota High School rodeo to kick off the spring high school rodeo season. This past weekend, April 21-23, families, rigs, horses, and contestants traveled across an icy interstate and held nothing back when it came to competing in one of the largest quonset buildings in the state of North Dakota.
“It’s obviously been a trying winter for the contestants to get their horses ready to compete. Kudos to the kids and parents for putting in the work to get here and get ready. Some may not have had the chance for the best practice scenarios, but it is obvious they are trying,” said Michelle Rotenberger, NDHSRA Secretary.
All around cowboy and senior, Cole Gerhardt, was in the zone when it came to competing. From the boys’ cutting, to bareback riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping, the senior at New Salem Public School said he was glad to be back in his element. “I appreciate the support and people that surround me at rodeos,” stated Gerhardt, “Whether it be Mat Wagoner helping me in the bucking chutes or the people that help me practice, it helps a lot.”
Another high school senior, Faith Heim, who attends Wilton Public School, is cherishing her last year of NDHSR and was all smiles. Her barrel horse, ‘Minion’, had just come off a nine-month recovery/rehab program due to an injured hock and back leg.
Heim took first place in the barrels on Saturday and third on Sunday with consistent 12 second runs. She also mentioned that she and her family are thankful to Jeff Switzer, the owner of ‘Famous Bugs’, and Bo Hill for helping them find ‘Minion’, after her previous barrel horse passed.
“The contestant numbers are good this year. Seven new members have been added this spring alone. The shooting numbers are coming up, and this event has come a long way. James Harriman from Bowman is really doing a great job with this program and has made improvements in the shooting all the way around,” added Rotenberger.
All around cowgirl winners for Saturday and Sunday (consecutively) were: Kally Sorenson, Watford City, N.D. and Hatten Kleeman, Killdeer, N.D. The boys all around champs were Ty Brenna, Keene, N.D. and Cole Gerhardt, Mandan, N.D.
Rotenberger said that the best part of being a secretary is seeing all the kids that try. “They might not have everything stacked in their favor, but they are out there shining. There is a big group of outgoing seniors this year, 58 to be exact, and they have been really great to watch through the years,” smiled Rotenberger.
For a complete list of results, all-around winners, and upcoming rodeos, visit www.ndhsra.org.
Tisa Peek is a long time horse trainer, competitor in barrel racing and team roping, and writer about the equine. Rodeo and horses run deep in her roots. JT Family Equine is where she calls home, south of Bismarck, ND. Tisa, along with her husband, Jon, and boys, Blu and River, train horses, host horse camps for youth, and provide riding lessons.