CUSTER COUNTY—Junior high cowboys and cowgirls have taken over Custer County as part of this week’s Nebraska Junior High School Rodeo State Finals. The Custer County Fairgrounds in Broken Bow has hosted the state finals for the last three years under the direction of Brad and Stephanie Miller. Stephanie Miller said 110 sixth through eighth grade students are participating in this year’s events from barrels and poles to chute dogging, ribbon roping, bull riding, and more. The top four in each event will head to the national competition in South Dakota this June.
“We’d love to have as many kids go, it’s such a great opportunity,” Stephanie Miller said referring to the national competition. Miller said Trotters Inc., has sponsored the Nebraska national team for the last few years and hopes to see another team of around 30-40 students this year.
Announcer John Smith says he loves to help out the local community by announcing events and enjoys seeing the competitiveness and effort that the young athletes put into their events.
“They’ve practiced for many, many hours at home and they’ve got a mom and dad and a family behind them or they wouldn’t be here,” Smith said. “And that’s a big part of it because rodeo is a huge family sport and that’s why I enjoy it as much as anything is that part of it right there.”
Smith said it is impressive to see the students compete and support one another.
In an interview with KCNI, Jace Rosentreader said he loves rodeo because he gets to be with his friends and ride horses. Makayla Wray from Ord grew up in a rodeo family and says she loves the competition but also has fun.
“This year I really wanted to come out strong and I did. I just did what I needed to do. I came out and roped my calves in the breakaway in the fall like I needed to–to get a head start, did good pole runs, and had a really good team roping so it’s just been really fun coming along,” Wray said.
Thursday’s beautiful weather and dry conditions allowed for events to take place both in the indoor and outdoor arenas. Events continue on Friday.
“Good luck to all the contestants and have a good day,” Rosentreader said.