Ruth Nicolaus | Hastings, Neb.

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April 23, 2014
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A Cowboy On Rodeo athlete also excelling at football, wrestling

If there’s a high school athlete who can say he’s well-rounded, well, it might have to be Brody Cleveland.

The 18 year old, a junior at Ogallala High School, is a wrestler, football player, and rodeo athlete.

He competed at the Rocky Mountain Nationals Wrestling Tournament in Broomfield, Colo., March 14-16, winning second in his 220-pound division and beating state champs from Arizona and Kansas.

He wrestled at the Midwest Classic in Kearney April 6, winning second there, beating a state champ runner-up and two state placers.

And at the Nebraska State High School Wrestling Tournament in Omaha, he won fourth place for the second year in a row. He’s been invited to compete on the Nebraska team at the Disney Duels in Orlando, Fla., for the second time.

He’s also listed on, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, with a 40-meter run of 4.8 seconds, a bench press max of 235 pounds, and a vertical jump of 27 inches. He’s had some colleges call on him, including South Dakota State University, Harvard, Iowa, North Dakota State, Wyoming and Nebraska.

And he’s a steer wrestler, team roper and tie-down roper in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association.

Every night, after football or wrestling practice, he’s in the family’s arena, practicing his steer wrestling and roping.

Growing up in a rodeo family (his dad, Paul, was a champion cowboy who judges rodeos now, and his mom, Deb, a champion barrel racer and goat tyer), Brody was scared of horses and began wrestling before he ever began rodeo. At the age when most kids are riding a horse at a run, Brody was content to ease around the place at a walk.

But somewhere in there, the fear of horses disappeared. And a love of football came in, too.

Of all his events, football is probably his favorite, “with rodeo a close second, and wrestling right up there, too,” he says. “I like them all, but it probably goes in that order.”

He likes the contact in football, which is also in wrestling and steer wrestling.

“They’re contact sports,” he said. “If you’re afraid to get popped around, they’re probably not for you.”

And they require discipline.

“Wrestling teaches you to be mentally tough,” he said. “You figure out how to do stuff yourself. It teaches you to be an individual, like rodeo does. You have to take care of business for yourself, that’s for sure.”

In addition to all this, Brody holds a 4.0 GPA, is on the school’s honor roll, National Honor Society, and Spanish Honor Society.

He plans on playing college football, which will exclude his other two sports.

Brody has made some school visits, but Nebraska is at the top of the list. Growing up in the Cornhusker State makes it hard to be anything but a Cornhusker.

With football and wrestling over for the year, Brody gets a break before high school rodeo starts back up the last week of April. He’s qualified his first two years of high school for the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo, held in Hastings every June, and he’s on track to make it again this year.

But right now, he has some college visits to take, and some horses to ride.

Brody has an older brother, Jade, and a younger sister, Annie, who is a freshman in high school. He, his parents, Paul and Deb, and his sister live on the family ranch near Keystone, Neb. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated May 5, 2014 11:22AM Published Apr 23, 2014 09:43AM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.