The intensity level at the 2020 High School Finals Rodeo in Ft. Pierre ratcheted up considerably on Saturday as event titles were on the line as well as much coveted spots on the Team South Dakota squad that will represent the state at the High School National Finals rodeo in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in July.
When flags were dropped, clocks stopped and numbers posted: a mix of veterans and talented newcomers pocketed gold buckles and punched tickets to Nationals.
Among the veteran contingent: Rapid City Central’s Cooper Filipek, who followed up a second place at State in 2019 with a gold buckle winning performance on Saturday.
“I didn’t do anything different today than I normally do,” said Filipek, who credited strapping his rigging to a bunch of bucking horses for his good fortune. “I knew how the horse was going to be since I had seen him buck three or four times. So I knew all I had to do was pick that horse up about the third jump out and go to the gas from there.”
Coming up three points short of making the short-go in last year’s Nationals, the rising senior hopes to capitalize upon that experience to move up the leaderboard in 2020.
“I was told last year after competing to just sit back, watch the clown show, and come back next year and have some fun with it, and that’s what I plan to do," he said.
Sturgis freshman Landry Haugen was among the newcomers earning a gold buckle on Saturday, capturing the top spot in barrel racing, her second winning performance of the week following a girls cutting victory earlier in the week. Haugen also had the quickest time in the goat tying short go (6.70-seconds) though finishing 11th overall).
“My mindset going out in barrels was to kick and kick hard. After a disappointing second run, I decided today I was going to make a run,” Haugen said. “This has been a great experience for me. As a freshman, you always have bigger goals. but all in all I can’t complain at all.”
Bridget Romey of Hot Springs also punched a first-ever ticket to Nationals with a couple of high placements, finishing third in pole bending and fourth in barrel racing.
“I’m really pleased with what I’ve been able to do here. I was extremely nervous coming here. I had a bad state last year, so I am incredibly blessed to be able to make good clean runs so far this year,” Romey said before making her short-go runs. “I’m going to just go do two more clean runs and let the chips fall where they may.”
Fortunately, the chips fell favorably.
The same held true for Pierre Riggs senior Josi Stevens, who overcame struggled in previous state finals to join Haugen as double gold buckle winners capturing titles in breakaway roping and pole bending. A short round victory sealed the deal in breakaway while a sixth-place finish in the pole bending short-go allowed him to hold off a late charge by New Underwood’s Tessa Caspers.
“It’s been a really great couple of weeks for me,” Stevens said. “I tried to go into the short-go not worrying about what I needed to do. I didn’t want to make myself too nervous and too worked up but just go out and making the runs I knew I could do. And I finally had some good luck fall my way after a rough couple of years at state finals so it’s really exciting to finally see things fall together.”
Caspers followed up her second-place finish in poles with another solid run in barrel racing — second in the short-go. The excellent short-go runs in the two events enabled the New Underwood junior to win the average in both as well thereby assuring a pair of qualifications for her first trip to the high school finals.
“I was really nervous going out tonight and am really pleased that we were able to make a couple of clean runs when we needed to,” Caspers said. “I didn’t do as well at regions as I had hoped, so to come here and do this exceeded my expectations.”
In steer wrestling, a trio of newcomers led by state champion Tegun Spring (Enning) joined last year’s defending champion Wyatt Tibbitts (Hot Springs), who shared third spot with Talon Elshere (Hereford), in earning trips to Nationals. Elshere made the big leap in the short go vaulting from seventh overall into the third spot by virtue of winning the average.
Elshere, son of PRCA champion saddle bronc start, JJ Elshere, did likewise in saddle bronc jumping from fifth to second overall while sharing the top ride of the night (74-points) with state champion Clint Donaldson.
2020 SDHSRA State Champions: Breakaway roping – Josi Stevens (Pierre); Pole bending – Josi Stevens (Pierre); Goat tying – Shantell Brewer (Dupree); Bareback - Cooper Filipek (Rapid City); Barrel racing – Landry Haugen (Sturgis); Steer wrestling – Tegun Spring (Enning); Saddle bronc – Clint Donaldson (Sturgis); Tiedown roping – Linkyn Petersek (Colome); Bull riding – Dylan Bradford (Selby); Team roping – Rio Nutter (Rapid City) & Bodie Mattson (Sturgis); Girls cutting – Landry Haugen (Sturgis); Boys cutting – Bodie Mattson (Sturgis); Reined Cow Horse – Dawson Phillips (Winner);
2020 National Team Qualifiers: Bareback – 1. Cooper Filipek, 2. Chase Yellowhawk,3. Colton Shelley, 4. Paul Iver; Breakaway roping – 1. Josi Stevens (Pierre), 2. Sawyer Gilbert (Buffalo), 3. Charlie Henwood (Belle Fourche), 4. Tie - Jenna Fulton (St. Lawrence) & Tessa Caspers; Girls Cutting – 1. Landry Haugen (Sturgis), 2. Jenna Fulton (St, Lawrence), 3. Sawyer Gilbert (Buffalo), 4. Chloe Crago (Belle Fourche); Pole bending – 1. Josi Stevens (Pierre), 2. Tessa Caspers (New Underwood), 3. Bridget Romey (Hot Springs), 4. Chantel Kolb (Belle Fourche); Boys Cutting – 1. Bodie Mattson (Sturgis), 2. Caden Stoddard (Norris), 3. Hugh Groves (Faith), 4. Trey Fuller (Faith); Reined Cow Horse – 1. Dawson Phillips (Winner), 2. Josi Stevens (Pierre), 3. Sage Bach (Florence), 4. Dawson Kautzman (Capitol, MT); Goat tying – 1. Shantell Brewer (Dupree), 2. Michaela McCormick (Salem), 3. Layni Stevens (Pierre), 4. Acelyn Brink (Newell); Barrel racing – 1. Landry Haugen (Sturgis), 2. Tessa Caspers (New Underwood), 3. Chantel Kolb (Belle Fourche), 4. Bridget Romey (Hot Springs); Tie down roping – 1. Linkyn Petersek (Colome), 2. Ty Moser (Wolsey), 3. Paxton Sully (Onida), 4. Rafe Wientjes (Onida); Saddle bronc – 1. Clint Donaldson (Sturgis), 2. Talon Elshere (Hereford), 3. Teigan Clark (Meadow), 4. Malcom Heathershaw (Quinn); Team roping – 1. Rio Nutter (Rapid City) & Bodie Mattson (Sturgis) 2. Denton Good (Long Valley) & Linkyn Petersek (Colome), 3. Justin & Jace Tekrony (Clear Lake), 4. Tegan Fite (Hermosa) & Chance Derner (New Underwood); Bull riding – 1. Dylan Bradford (Selby), 2. Thayne Elshere (Hereford), 3. Jack Rodenbaugh (Box Elder), 4. Riley Shippy (Colome).
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