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SDSU Rodeo Team prepares for spring rodeo season

The South Dakota State University Rodeo Team ended the fall 2023 season with the women’s team ranked second and the men’s team ranked fourth among 15 schools and 280 contestants represented in the Great Plains Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. 

The team, under the direction of SDSU Rodeo Coach Ron Skovly, is made up of 45 traveling members who hit the road for five consecutive weekends this season. The team started after Labor Day with a rodeo at River Falls, Wisconsin, followed by a trip to North Platte, Nebraska, for a double rodeo. Trips to Fort Dodge, Iowa; Dickinson, North Dakota; and Alta, Iowa, rounded out the season. 

The Great Plains Region includes schools in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association is divided into 11 regions nationwide, with over 3,500 collegiate rodeo athletes. 

Collegiate rodeo events include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, goat tying, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing. 

SDSU’s regional standings as of Oct. 9, 2023, are as follows: 

Women’s all-around: Second – Opal Harkins, Billings, Montana. 

Tie-down roping: Second – Rafe Wientjes, Onida; eighth – Seth Gaikowski, Waubay. 

Steer wrestling: Third – Dalton Kunkee, Lexington, Nebraska; seventh – Kaden Wooters, Elwood, Nebraska; ninth – Garret Arndorfer, Berthold, North Dakota. 

Team roping, header: First – Trey Frank, Sioux City, Iowa; second – Lan Fuhrer, Belle Fourche; eighth – Dalton Kunkee, Lexington, Nebraska. 

Team roping, heeler: Eighth – Opal Harkins, Billings, Montana. 

Barrel racing: Second – Arabella Cook, Arroyo Grande, California; 15th – Dayna Terning, Darwin, Minnesota. 

Breakaway roping: Seventh – Opal Harkins, Billings, Montana; 11th – Madison Rotenberger, Ludlow; 13th – Hannah Schubert, Brainard, Minnesota. 

Goat tying: Fifth – Opal Harkins, Billings, Montana; seventh – Victoria Skiba, Cambridge, Minnesota; eighth – Hannah Schubert, Brainerd, Minnesota; ninth – Rayha Richert, Lyndon Station, Wisconsin; 12th –­ Madison Rotenberger, Ludlow. 

“I am very proud of how our team handled their time management between school, practices and traveling to rodeos this fall with five weekends in a row,” Skovly said. “We have four more rodeos this spring to continue to climb in the region standings before our last rodeo on graduation weekend in May.” 

The spring rodeo season will start in Ames, Iowa, on April 5-6 at the Cyclone Stampede. The Jackrabbit Stampede will bring competitors back to Brookings on April 12-13. SDSU Rodeo Team members and alumni will host the Buckles and Bling banquet on April 11. The fundraiser features a meal, program and both live and silent auctions. All proceeds support rodeo team scholarships and travel expenses. 

The Black Hills State University Yellow Jacket Stampede is April 26-27 in Spearfish, and the team’s last regional rodeo at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Rodeo in Lincoln, Nebraska, on May 3-4. 

Learn more about the SDSU Rodeo Team online.



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