The end of another season has come and gone, and the Nebraska High School Rodeo Champions have been crowned.
Hundreds of boys and girls from across the state participate in high school rodeo, and the best of the best competed in late June in Hastings.
One cowboy who faired very well was Cody Nye of Alliance, Neb., who was named the tie-down roping champion.
“The finals went pretty well. I placed in all three rounds and won the average as well as the short round. It was the best state finals that I’ve ever had,” said Nye.
He has attended the state finals every year, and this year, being his last, was his last chance to win a title.
“Winning state is what I’ve been chasing since my freshman year. My sophomore and junior year I was second. My sophomore year I went in ninth and came out second, and that lit a spark in me,” he explained.
He continued, “In order to win this year, I had to stay in control, and rope smart. There were people that were ahead of me, so I had to keep my head under control and keep focused. The first steer ran a little harder and the second one was really good but I made a mistake. My short round calf was really good and that helped.”
Nye has been roping his entire life, and started tie-down roping when he was in eighth grade. He did breakaway roping before that.
“I enjoy tie-down roping because there is no one you can blame if you make a mistake. It also takes a special horse to do it,” he stated.
He trains his own horses, and Lakota, his 15-year-old mare, is his partner in the tie-down event.
“The really good ones are few and far between. It’s a lot easier to go buy one than it is to make one. We don’t have that kind of money so we train them, and Lakota is amazing. It takes a special horse to do tie-down. They have to be athletic and that’s fun,” he said.
Nye has owned Lakota since she was just two, and he and his dad did all of the training on her.
“We buy them as yearlings or two-year-olds and my dad breaks them and then I finish them. My dad helped me a lot with her,” Nye said.
His mare has won Horse of the Year at the Nebraska State Finals for the past three years.
“The way you win it, they go off of how many points you win at state finals. It takes a good one to win at state finals. She can be solid and be there when I need her,” he stated.
To train the horses and to keep them in top condition, Nye spends a lot of time training them.
“We do a lot of runs on them. It takes so much time, and it’s a long drawn out process. We do a lot of breakaway roping, and then taking the first step to tying one down that’s a big step,” he explained.
He practices every night that he can, but he doesn’t tie off the horses every practice session.
“I try to do something every night if time allows. If I have to work late, I don’t get to practice, but I’m always roping something. We don’t tie a lot down a lot, but do a lot of breakaway,” he said.
He added, “We try to keep them at the top of their game. We don’t want them to take a hit all the time and get sore and bitter. So I rope the dummy and tie from the post for my practice.”
He has spent a lot of time working to get better.
“My dad has helped me a lot. I’ve had a lot of other people help me as well with the nit picky things. Learning from everyone else has helped a ton,” Nye said.
To prepare for the National High School finals, he will continue to practice and attending rodeos.
“I’m competing in other rodeos to prepare and do a lot of practicing. I want my horse to be the best she can be when I get to the finals,” he said.
Nye has attended the state finals twice in the past.
“Usually people from the north don’t do as well, so it’s good to make the short round. I want to make the short round again. I think a top 10 or top 5 finish is possible if I draw good calves. I can only do as well as the calves will let me,” he stated.
Since he graduated from high school this year, he plans to go off to college next year at Gillette College.
“I’ll college rodeo and go there for two years, and then I’ll transfer to a four-year school and get my bachelors degree. I will be studying business management in Gillette, and when I get to a four-year school I will do it in ag business. I’d like to come back to where I live and work here,” he said.
Another competitor who was named a champion was Rowdy Moon, a junior from Sargent, Neb., who won the bareback riding.
“I was really exciting about winning the bareback riding,” he said.
He continued, “My dad helped me out a lot, and I’m thankful for that. I was third last year and I was fourth my first year. I know this year I had to get my horses ridden. “
To practice, he attended rodeos and spent time working on a spur board.
“I just kept doing what I was already doing,” Moon said.
He originally got into bareback riding his freshman year when he decided to try it.
“My dad bought my rigging for me and I really enjoyed it. I like the challenge, and the adrenaline rush,” he said.
In addition to bareback riding, Moon also bull fights at the rodeos.
“My brother used to raise bulls and I had another brother who rode them. I thought it would be neat to be a bullfighter, and I was 13 when I started doing it,” Moon stated.
He added, “I used to have practice pens. Whenever a kid would come out and ride I would fight. Now I just go to rodeos to practice.”
He hopes to continue rodeoing through his last year, and eventually do it professional as well as bullfighting. “I enjoy bullfighting because I enjoy helping people. I like helping to keep them safe,” he stated.
The top four in each event at the state finals will head to Rock Springs, Wyo., to compete in the national finals, which will be held July 13-19. ❖