NHSR Champions Headed to National Finals
Photos Courtesy of Denise Kasperbauer
Rodeo is a sport that takes guts, dedication and a little luck to succeed in. For Nebraska high school students, the state finals is a chance for them to lay it on the line, and qualify for the national finals.
The state finals, held June 21-23 at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Hastings, Neb., narrowed down each event to four students and an alternate who will qualify to head to nationals.
The all around boy was Chauncey Hesseltine from Thedford, Neb., who won both the saddle bronc and bull riding titles.
In the first go, Hesseltine placed third in the bareback event with a score of 50 and first in the saddle bronc riding with a score of 49. During the second go, he placed fifth in the bareback event with a score of 38 and first in the bull riding with a score of 76. Even though he didn’t post a score during the short-go, he had enough points from the year to win the two titles. He was the state finals champion in the saddle bronc event.
He plans to attend Vernon College in Vernon, Texas. on a full ride rodeo scholarship. He plans to major in Criminal Justice and receive his associates degree.
All around girls champion was Cati Stanko of Gordon, Neb., who won the pole-bending event, third in goat tying and second in breakaway roping.
She won four rounds in the go-rounds. During the first go, she posted a time of 2.48 seconds in the breakaway roping, 20.806 seconds in the poles which were both good enough for first place. She also placed seventh in the barrels with a time of 17.402 seconds.
On the second day, she placed fourth in the poles with a time of 21.073, eighth in the goat tying with a time of 12.02 and ninth in the barrels with a time of 17.417 seconds. She qualified for the short-go in four events, including poles, barrels, breakaway roping and goat tying.
She won the barrels in a time of 17.557 seconds and the poles with a time of 21.566 seconds. She was fourth in the breakaway roping with a time of 3.56 seconds and fifth in the goat tying with a time of 11.95 seconds.
She attended the finals in all three events, and won the all-around title by more than 1,000 points.
The male Rookie of the Year award was presented to Ty Spickelmier, of Imperial, Neb. He just finished his freshman year, and competed in team roping and tie-down roping. He placed fourth in the tie-down roping, which means he will be attending nationals.
The award is determined by the total number of points accumulated over the season, and the winner is given a buckle. Spickelmier, who attends Chase County School, is the 15-year-old son of Wayne and Stannette Spickelmier.
The female Rookie of the year was Shawnie Stone-Swedburg of Hershey, Neb., who placed third in the barrel racing. She will attend the national finals in that event.
The Goat Typing Champion, Torie Opela from Stepleton, Neb., comes from a family of rodeo champions. She claimed her own title this year. She won both go-rounds, and finished second in the average, but first overall.
Opela’s older sister have won the breakaway title, and her brother has won the team roping and tie-down roping titles. Now, she has one of her own and will compete at the national finals in this event. Opela is the daughter of Jim and Kristy Opela.
Team roping champions Rhett Nelson from Doniphan, Neb., and Tucker White from Hershey, Neb., have attempted to win the events for the past three years. However, a little change this year may have given them the edge they needed.
Originally White was the header and Nelson the heeler, and this year they switched. Going into the finals they were ranked second, and after finishing seventh of the first day, fifth on the second and second on the third, they came home the champions.
White, the son of Jeff and Joni White, plans to attend Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colo., where he is on a rodeo scholarship for team and tie-down roping. Nelson, the son of Rod and Monique Nelson, plans to attend Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla., and major in biology.
A second two-event winner was Brandy Brown of North Platte, Neb. Brown entered the finals third in the breakaway roping and second on barrel racing. She took home the title for both events, and will compete in both events at the finals. This is Brown’s third time to attend the national finals.
Brown graduated from Maywood High School this year, and plans to attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., this fall on a rodeo scholarship. She will be majoring in Agriculture Production Technology with an endorsement in marketing. “After two years I plan to attend the University of Wyoming, and receive my degree in Physical Therapy and work on the Justin Sports Medicine Team,” she said.
The queen contest was also held, and the 2012-2012 Queen will be Kayellyn Hall.
The national finals will be held on July 15-21, 2012 at Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyo.
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