Ten members of the South Dakota State University Rodeo Team have qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR). The team has been recognized as a top contender in the region, yielding 115 CNFR qualifiers in the past 12 years.
Despite a canceled season in spring 2020, several rodeos canceled in fall 2020 and a canceled 2021 Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the women’s team has earned the title of 2020-2021 Great Plains Region Champions and the men’s team has earned the title of 2020-2021 Great Plains Region Reserve Champions.
The teams will compete at the CNFR June 13-19 in Casper, Wyoming. Qualifying members include:
- Allison Pauley, a senior biochemistry student from Honey Creek, Iowa, in barrel racing;
- Tori Jacobs, a senior interior design student from Madrid, Iowa, in goat tying;
- Jacey Hupp, a senior agricultural communications student from Huron, in goat tying;
- Shelby Spanel, a senior animal science student from Anselmo, Nebraska, in goat tying;
- Colton Carlson, a junior pre-medicine student from Jamestown, North Dakota, in team roping;
- Judd Grover, a junior agricultural science student from Cresco, Iowa, in team roping and tie down;
- Matt Herbold, a senior animal science student from Lawton, Iowa, in team roping;
- Scott Halverson, a senior animal science student, from Fairview, in team roping;
- Colton Struxness, a senior mechanical engineering student from Appleton, Minnesota, in steer wrestling; and
- Eli Satzinger, a freshman wildlife and fisheries sciences student from Belle Fourche, in saddle bronc riding
Hupp, a five-time CNFR qualifier, was recognized as the 2020-2021 Great Plains Region Goat Tying Champion, and her horse, French Fry, was awarded the Horse of the Year.
“I’ve met my best friends in that yellow vest,” said Hupp. “The memories I’ve made and the people I’ve met have by far been the best part about my rodeo career. The best part about our women’s team is that we can compete against each other yet cheer for each other at the same time. We all know how hard the other works and we celebrate it when we have success.”
Additionally, Hupp was selected as the region nominee for the Walt Garrison Award which is given to a student athlete who is a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) and demonstrates initiative, loyalty, tenacity, commitment, honesty, perseverance, integrity and leadership, and is an asset to his/her institution, as well as the NIRA. The winner of the $2,500 award will be presented at the CNFR in June.
Also seeing individual success, Grover was recognized as the 2020-2021 Great Plains Region Men’s All-Around Champion, Tie-Down Champion and Team Roping Header.
“I’m looking forward to competing against the best of the best at this level,” said Grover. “The CNFR is a great time no matter what and it will be even better going out there with such a great team.”
Similar to Hupp, Grover was selected as the region nominee for the NIRA Patty Skogen Memorial Award which is given to two student athletes who have qualified for the CNFR, are members of the NIRA in good standing, show their love of rodeo, demonstrate characteristics of determination, grit, kindness, overcoming obstacles and have a welcoming attitude. The two award winners will be presented with $1,000 scholarships at the CNFR this summer.
“I am very excited that we qualified both teams this year,” said Ron Skovly, SDSU Rodeo Program Coach. “With five of our ten qualifiers already having CNFR experience, I think we will be very competitive on the national level at Casper in June.”