Freshman roper ready for 2023 season

Seth Gaikowski sweeps in HS division, prepares for collegiate competition



Seth Gaikowski, a freshman on the rodeo team, competes in tie-down roping and team roping. Gaikowski is 2nd in the region for team roping and 14th for tie-downs.

Shelby Lang, Reporter

The young cowboy waits patiently in the box. Gathering a plan of action and success. His nerves are intense. His mind is focused. Then nods his head and it’s game time.

Time starts ticking. Every second counts against him. The name of the game is speed and technique.

Introducing Seth Gaikowski, a freshman at South Dakota State University and a member of the rodeo team where he competes in tie-down and team roping.

In tie-down roping, a cowboy will rope the head of a cow, then dismount to flip the cow and tie three legs together in a timely manner. In team roping, two participants must rope both horns and both back legs of a steer, ensuring he is caught.

Gaikowski’s success from high school has trailed into college, making his current standing 2nd in the region for team roping and 14th in tie-down. This has earned him a total of $1333.50.

For Gaikowski, the sport is about family, connections and learning. Gaikowski grew up with a support system that helped him progress in his passion. The spark of interest derived from his uncle, Glenn Gaikowski.

“My uncle Glenn was a big role model for me,” Gaikowksi said. “He started my interest in rodeo and helped me learn the first things about roping.”

His parents did not rodeo, so he did not grow up with the sport, but rather was inspired by other family members to start. 

“My siblings and I took on rodeo at a very young age out of inspiration from our older cousin,” Gaikoski said. “She started entering the small rodeos and we followed her.”

Gaikowski has had a lot of success with the sport throughout the years. He says he continues to grow as an individual while advancing in his career. However, he was not always as successful as he is today. 

“When we were younger, we were terrible,” he said. “I was never any good and I always looked up to the older kids at the rodeos, trying to get better. My parents introduced me to people that knew more than I did and I was able to learn more. One thing led to the next and I started winning in the rodeo world.”

At SDSU, Gaikowski studies agricultural business and is looking forward to continuing his success in the upcoming season that will kick off March 30, 2023.

Prairie Retzer, a senior at SDSU and a member of the rodeo program, remarked on her perspective of roping with Gaikowski.

“Seth always has a smile on his face and is willing to help anyone in the practice pen,” Retzer said. “He has been an asset to our men’s team as a point earner and a role model, it will be exciting to watch him this spring season.”

Ron Skovly, the rodeo coach, also had good things to say about Gaikowski.

“His focus at rodeos is definitely a strength,” Skovly said. “I don’t think he takes his past rodeo experiences any differently than he does here. He is willing to do anything that is asked, whatever it may be.”

Skovly highlighted Gaikowski’s success as a freshman on the team.

“The past 12 years, I have had at least 3 to 4 freshman standouts for work ethic and determination,” Skovly said. “Seth is definitely one of them.”

Looking ahead to the College National Finals, Skolvy is confident that Gaikowski will make the cut.

“He will be at the CNFR. If not this year, but the next couple based on his work ethic,” Skovly said.

Gaikowski left words of advice for future rodeo riders while remeniscing on his start to the sport.

“If you really want to get better, you have to ask questions and get advice from those better,” he said. “Work hard at it, set goals and keep your head on straight, and you’ll be all right.”