Fort Hays State University Rodeo Team members don't quit competing when college rodeo season is over. In fact, they rope and ride all year long. And for three high school rodeo recruits and one current team member, that extra time in the saddle has paid off.
Noell Nordstedt, Abbyville freshman, qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in breakaway roping by accumulating enough points throughout the season to be in the top four in Kansas. Although Nordstedt qualified for nationals in seventh and eighth grade, she said this year's qualification was the first time in her high school career.
At the state finals, Nordstedt placed third in the first go-round, third in the second go-round and fourth in the short-go en route to winning the average title with a time of 8.857 seconds on three head. In addition, her finals results helped her finish third in the year-end standings.
Nordstedt said she got started with rodeo when her family moved to Abbyville near Bronc Rumford, who is now the FHSU rodeo team's head coach.
"We've had horses since I was born," said Nordstedt. "Then we moved here by Bronc and Kate, and just people around us have got us started. I have a 14-year-old brother and an 11-year-old brother. They rodeo, too. My dad pretty much helps us now."
In the team roping, Nordstedt teamed up with fellow Haven High School graduate Steven Cannon Jr., Abbyville freshman, and together they placed fourth in the second go-round.
Nordstedt said she and Cannon have known each other for a long time.
"We've gone to school with each other since third grade."
Another FHSU recruit, Samantha Tenpenny, Topeka freshman, also had a good state finals result and won the first go-round in breakaway roping. She also was consistent in goat tying, finishing seventh in the average.
Nordstedt will compete at the National High School Finals Rodeo July 18-24 in Gillette, Wyo.
Cody Pratt, Monte Vista, Colo., senior, represented the FHSU Rodeo Team at the national level in the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
Although Pratt didn't qualify by being one of the top three in the region in his event, he served as the Central Plains Region student director and was allowed to compete in steer wrestling, the event in which he had the most points.
He proved to be a strong contender, placing second in the first go-round and sixth in the third go-round. A no-score in the second go-round kept him out of the short-go and out of the average.
"The first and third go-rounds went good," Pratt said, "but I had some tough luck in the second that kept me out of the average. I didn't score as good as I needed to and just didn't have the luck come my way."
Because Pratt is the region's student director, he will have an extra year of eligibility to compete in college rodeo next season. Typically, a student can only compete for four years, but Pratt will have that extra chance to qualify for the CNFR in his fifth and final year for the 2010-2011 season.