Rodeo team prepares for spring competition

John Andrews

John Andrews

The South Dakota State University rodeo team is getting back in the saddle again.

The Jacks will begin practice this week for the spring rodeo season. The first event of the spring will be the Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo, April 4 to 7.

Head coach Terry McCutcheon said the men’s and women’s teams both have certain events they are strong in, but he says each team has some quality experience going into this season.

On the men’s side, McCutcheon points to the team roping, calf roping and the saddle bronc riding as events the Jacks will contend in.

”We have some juniors and seniors that have been at it for two years that are very experienced and starting to really find themselves,” McCutcheon said.

Breakaway roping and goat tying will be the women’s strongest events, McCutcheon said.

”We have some good senior leadership that’s paving the way in those two events,” McCutcheon said.

The Jacks are returning many top performers from last fall’s rodeo season, which consisted of three rodeos. Mark Brockmueller is leading the Great Plains Region in team roping with a 20 point advantage over Devin McGrath of National American University. Jaret Wirtz is in second place in the saddle bronc riding while Travis Hande is fourth. Beau Wisness is tied for third place in steer wrestling.

For the women, Megan Fagerhaug currently sits in fifth place in the breakaway roping and Ann Maher is in a tie for sixth place in goat tying.

The spring rodeo season consists of seven rodeos and runs through the second weekend in May. After the regular season, the top 10 in each event will advance to the regional playoffs in Bozeman, Mont. The top seven after the regional tournament will go to the national finals in Casper, Wyo. in June.

“I’m really excited about the possibilities for the team, both men and women,” McCutcheon said. ”This year we have a lot of people who are juniors that are very tough in their events and becoming very confident, so the spring is going to bring a lot of possibilities.”

Not only is McCutcheon excited about watching the team, he’s also looking forward to a change of venue. Thanks to a deal with Sutton Rodeos, Inc. of Onida, S.D., SDSU will move its rodeos from the Animal Science Arena to the Brookings Area MultiPlex.

“There was not a better rodeo in the region and maybe very few rodeos that were better in the country on a regional basis than was in the Animal Science Arena,” McCutcheon said. ”Somebody in the front row or the middle row was always going to get dirt on them from the bucking horses or the bulls or something, which made it a lot of fun. But now we’re going to make that move and see if we can’t do it on a larger scale.”

McCutcheon said that while practice is starting this week, anyone who wants to join the rodeo team is welcome.