Saddle up, lads and ladies: the rodeo is rolling into town

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Cowgirls will tie down goats, and cowboys will challenge bulls, as the Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo takes over the Swiftel Center April 3 to 5.

The 55th annual event will feature three days of rodeo action, complete with saddle bronc, bareback, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying. Performances start at 1 p.m. on April 3, 4 and 5, and a second performance starts at 7 p.m. on April 4. A dance will follow the evening’s action on both April 3 and 4.

“It will be a great way for students to come watch some quality rodeo,” said Gary Lemme, club adviser for the SDSU Rodeo Club.

Terry McCutcheon, coach of the Rodeo Club, said SDSU should have a strong showing at the event, which is a regional qualifier.

“Last year, eight individuals qualified for the College National Finals,” he said. “In 2004, we had a national champion.”

Since it is a regional qualifier, competitors will be able to accumulate points at the Stampede Rodeo. At the end of the 10 rodeo season, the three students with the most points in each event in each region will qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., which runs from June 14 to 20.

This year, several SDSU Rodeo Club members rank in the top three through four competitions in the Great Plains Region on the season. Pat Cowan, a freshman, ranks first in steer wrestling. Several are second in their events, including Andrew Coughlin, bull riding; Dani Lange, barrel racing; Whitney O’Rourke, breakaway roping; and Sarah Nelson, goat tying. Those ranked third from SDSU are Jake Bode in bull riding, Rex Treeby in tie-down roping, Brent Sutton, a third generation SDSU Rodeo cowboy, in steer wrestling and Whitney Sprunk in barrel racing.

Rachel Tiedeman, who was last year’s regional champion, transferred to SDSU since last season and should be a contender.

McCutcheon said he thinks SDSU students would enjoy many of the rodeo events, with barrel racing and bull riding being potential crowd favorites.

“Barrel racing is very fast paced. ? Bull riding is a wild event for everyone. In the past, people have gotten knocked out. It gets pretty wild.”

The South Dakota talent will also be a draw in bull riding, McCutcheon said.

“Bull riding is very popular, and we have kids who are as tough (as the professionals).”

Through four of 10 rodeos this year, SDSU has five bull riders in the top 12 in the Great Plains Region.

The Stampede Rodeo will feature 260 contestants from 15 schools and six states. McCutcheon said Dickinson State University, Black Hills State University, Iowa Central Community College, North Dakota State University and SDSU will be some of the top competitors.

Both the SDSU men’s and women’s team are currently ranked third in the region behind Dickinson State University and Black Hills State University, who are one and two respectively.

With 60 Intercollegiate Rodeo Association members, the SDSU Rodeo Club is the largest team in the Great Plains Region – which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa – and is the sixth largest in the nation. Due to a strong agricultural base at SDSU, McCutcheon said the Rodeo Club is the longest running competitive club on campus and has over 3,000 alumni.

“SDSU has a very long tradition,” he said, “and the state of South Dakota also has a rich tradition as far as agriculture.”

Rodeo tickets cost $8 for SDSU students with ID, $14 for adults and $6 for children ages 3 to 12. They are available at the Swiftel Center Box Office, by phone at 800-745-3000, online at or at any Ticketmaster outlet.