By Con Marshall
Chadron will be invaded by cowboys and cowgirls, pickups pulling trailers and lots of valuable horseflesh this weekend when the annual Chadron State College rodeo takes place at the Dawes County Fairgrounds.
The rodeo will open the season in the Central Rocky Mountain Region, made up of 15 colleges and universities. Last year’s rodeo had nearly 500 entries. The Chadron State men won that team title and the women placed third.
The performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, followed by the championship go-round at 10 o’clock Sunday morning.
With so many entries, slack will be needed in the timed events. It will begin at 1 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Also on tap will be Cowboy Church at 8 o’clock Sunday morning in the fairgrounds grandstand. The public is invited to attend.
Chadron State Rodeo Coach Dustin Luper has 16 women and 27 men on this year’s team.
Luper believes the CSC men’s team will be particularly strong. He noted that it has proven contestants in both the timed and rough stock events and has added some promising newcomers.
The men’s leaders include two of last year’s regional champions—Prestyn Novak of Newell, South Dakota, in tie down roping and bull rider Chasen Cole of Hermosa, South Dakota, and a graduate of Custer High. Novak is also a capable steer wrestler and placed third in the region’s all-around cowboy standings last year.
Also returning is Dakota Rice of Kellogg, Idaho, who reached the bull riding finals at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper in June.
Bull riding could be Chadron State’s strongest event, Luper said. Both Miles Englebert of Edgemont, South Dakota, and Ethan Lesiak of Clarks, Nebraska, placed in it a couple of times last year and freshman Buck Butterfield of Worland, Wyoming, is a two-time high school state champion in the event and has been impressive during practices since classes began at CSC.
Other rough stock contestants who have been finalists in regional rodeos include Colin Dibbern of Riverdale, Nebraska, and Cody Trump of Merriman in saddle bronc riding and Kellen Washut of Casper on barebacks.
In addition, Rowdy Moon, a Sargent, Nebraska, native who won the bareback title in the Great Plains Region last year while competing at Mid-Plains College in North Platte, has transferred to CSC.
CSC cowboys who did well in timed events last year and are competing again include Lance Neuerburg of Kersey, Colorado, in team roping and Tater Petrak of Martin, South Dakota, and Cole Retchless of Bridgeport, both steer wrestlers.
Another steer wrestler, Kalane Anders of Bayard, has transferred from Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. He was the region’s steer wrestling champion in 2014-15 and says he’s back at full strength after being sidelined by a major knee injury and a broken leg the past two years.
Also coming back from injuries is Devin Dibbern, Colin’s brother, who is a steer wrestler and team roper.
Brandi Cwach of Geddes, South Dakota, is expected to be among the leaders of Chadron State’s women’s team. She has placed in the top six in goat tying in the region the past two years.
Luper is also excited to have three women who did not compete for CSC until the second semester a year ago available full-time this year.
They include Jayde Atkins, who was the national high school rodeo all-around cowgirl as a senior at Broken Bow High School 2016. She placed second in the barrel race at the University of Wyoming rodeo last spring.
Another is Patricia Miller of Newcastle, Wyoming, who was the runner-up in breakaway roping at the UW rodeo.
The third is Jessica Applegarth of Yuba City, California, who won the goat tying at the college challenge during the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island last week. Moon was the bareback winner at the state fair.
Moon will do double duty during the rodeo. Besides riding barebacks, he’ll serve as a bullfighter with Shilo Whitler of Colorado.
Spud Creek Rodeo of Interior, South Dakota, will furnish the rough stock and Brett Gumb of Burwell, a former CSC cowboy and football player, and his family will provide the livestock for the timed events.
After a one-year absence, Sugar Ray Quinn, will return as the announcer. A former bullfighter, Quinn also is the announcer for the Rapid City hockey team.
General admission will be $5 per performance. Youth 12 and under will be admitted free. There is no charge for CSC students and employees.