Nebraska high school rodeo athletes are valedictorians, salutatorians

Ruth Nicolaus
Courtesy of the Adams County Ag Society
Savannah Jordan, Harrisburg, Neb., is valedictorian of the 2017 class at Banner Co. High School. She has competed at the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo the past three years and will attend Concordia University in Seward, Neb., this fall.
Photo courtesy Savannah Jordan |

HASTINGS, Neb. — They’re gifted in the arena, knowing how to rope, wrestle, race, ride cutting horses and pole bend.

They’re also gifted academically.

Seven seniors in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association have been designated as valedictorians and salutatorians for their high school classes.

Jake Judge, West Holt High School, Savannah Jordan, Banner Co. High School, Alison Stracke, Stuart High School, and Peyton Flack, Arthur Co. High School, have all earned the title of valedictorian for their respective classes of 2017.

Earning salutatorian honors are Georgie Lage and Josh Powers, co-salutatorians at Arthur Co. High School, and Taylor Whetham, Morrill High School.

Jake Judge, Atkinson, Neb., valedictorian of the West Holt High School Class of 2017, was a four-year letter winner in football, wrestling and track, president of the National Honor Society for two years, president of his class for four years, was involved in the one-act plays, a member of 4-H, and involved in FFA. In FFA, his ag sales entrepreneurship project won state this year.

He has been elected as the student president of the state FFA program, and this fall, will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in agriculture engineering. His dream is to some day design agriculture equipment like tractors, disks and balers.

He competed as a team roper in high school rodeo and is the son of Kevin and Tammie Judge.

Harrisburg’s Savannah Jordan graduated from Banner Co. High School. In school, she was involved in basketball, volleyball, FFA, one-act plays, the National Honor Society and 4-H. In rodeo, she competed in the goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing, reining cow horse, cutting and breakaway, competing at state finals the last three years.

This fall, she will attend Concordia University in Seward, Neb., on an academic scholarship, and major in elementary education with a minor in drama. An influential teacher in elementary school, when she hit a rough patch, changed her life for the better and has made her decide to become a teacher.

She is the daughter of Hope and Gregg Wurdeman and Shannon and Melanie Jordan.

Alison Stracke graduated from Stuart High School as valedictorian of her class, after participating in volleyball, basketball, as co-captain of the dance team, one-act plays, speech, quiz bowl, National Honor Society member, president of her class and FFA and co-president of the student council.

In high school rodeo, she competes in the pole bending, breakaway roping and barrel racing and has competed at state finals the last three years, finishing eighth in the state last year in the barrel racing.

This fall, she will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in hopes of becoming either a nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist. She has earned an academic scholarship to UNL.

She is the daughter of Mike and Jenny Stracke.


Peyton Flack is the valedictorian for the Arthur Co. High School Class of 2017. The cowgirl competes in the barrel racing, goat tying and pole bending, and in high school, was involved in volleyball, basketball, one-act plays, quiz bowl, speech, the National Honor Society, band and was president of student council.

This fall, she will attend Chadron State College, majoring in elementary education; she has earned a Susan Buffett Foundation scholarship for college.

She has competed at state finals twice, and is the daughter of Audra Peterson and Jon Flack.

Flack is not the only top rodeo athlete from Arthur Co. High School; two other high school rodeo members finished at the top of the class.

Georgie Lage and Josh Powers were co-salutatorians, and they, along with Flack, earned 4.0 grade point averages. After figuring averages with a weighted percentage scale, Flack came out ahead of her classmates by only a couple thousandths of a point.

Lage was involved in basketball, volleyball, quiz bowl, speech, one-act plays, student council, FFA, band, the National Honor Society and 4-H. She, along with Flack, won state with their Finance Challenge team and finished third at the National Personal Finance Challenge, edging out teams with students in schools of more than 5,000 people.

This fall, she will attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo. and major in ag business, then go on to a four-year school and become an ag education teacher. The 2017 Nebraska Reined Cowhorse champion, she will compete collegiately in the breakaway and team roping. Lage has competed at state finals the past three years.

She is the daughter of Ron and Kristy Lage.

Powers, a tie-down roper, steer wrestler, cutter and team roper, was vice-president of student council and the National Honor Society, treasurer of his class, and was involved in the one-act play, FFA and quiz bowl.


This fall, he will be enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, majoring in biology, and then go on to study veterinary medicine. He has qualified for state finals the past three years.

He is the son of Dan and Patty Powers.

While at Morrill High School, Taylor Whetham, salutatorian, participated in FFA, FBLA, and FCA, was president of her school’s National Honor Society chapter, played basketball for two years, and was leading actress in the one-act play. In high school rodeo, she competes in the breakaway roping and the team roping, competing at state finals last year in the team roping.

She has earned an R-HOP scholarship (Rural Health Opportunities Program) which pays for her tuition at Chadron (Neb.) State College and guarantees her a spot in the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She plans on becoming a dental hygienist. She is the daughter of Shon and Cathy Whetham.

These outstanding students, plus more than 100 more, will compete in Hastings at the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo June 15-17. Performances are at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 15-16, with the finals at 1 p.m. on June 17. From the state finals, the top four in each event will qualify for the National High School Finals Rodeo, held in Gillette, Wyo., July 16-22, 2017.

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