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Stroh enters state finals No. 1 in saddle bronc

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South Heart’s Boyd Stroh didn’t plan on being a saddle bronc rider.

Before his freshman year of high school, Stroh made no mention to parents of wanting to compete in any form of rodeo, let alone competing in roughstock.

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However, when he finally decided to take up rodeo at the tail end of his freshman year, he didn’t have to look far for advice.

Stroh found the roughstock advice at home from his father, Shaun Stroh, who reached the National Finals Rodeo five times in saddle bronc riding.

“I had interest in rodeo, because my dad was in it, but I never really felt like competing until two years ago,” Boyd Stroh said.

Though Stroh’s father was wildly successful in saddle bronc, Boyd didn’t start competing in the event until the end of his sophomore season. He started as a bull rider as a freshman and switched to bareback riding during his sophomore year.

A year ago last week, Stroh finally made the transition from bareback to saddle bronc.

It didn’t take long for Stroh to find success in the event. Stroh enters with the No. 1 spot in saddle bronc riding for the North Dakota High School Rodeo State Finals beginning today at Dakota Winds Arena in Bowman.

“(My father) is the reason why I’m doing so much better in saddle bronc than I did in bulls and bareback,” said Stroh, who will be a senior at South Heart in the fall. “It’s just like living with a coach. He’s been to the NFR five times and he knows what he’s talking about. He can tell you what you are doing wrong and what you need to fix.

“It’s fantastic having him there all the time as a coach and as a dad.”

Stroh closed out the regular season with 59 points in the saddle bronc. That’s 24 points better than second-place Keenan Kvamme of Carrington.

Though he holds a comfortable lead, Stroh isn’t relaxing anytime soon. He wants to finish the state finals with a championship belt buckle.

“I’m pretty nervous,” he said. “Even though I have a pretty good lead, it’s still open for anybody. I’ve worked two years to get to the spot I’m in and it’s kind of dream come true to see me No. 1 going into state and I can bring the saddle bronc title home.”

Preparing for a close finish

Killdeer’s Lakken Bice knows barrel racing, breakaway roping and pole bending are too close to call entering the state finals.

Bice is ranked second in barrel racing, eighth in pole bending and ninth in breakaway roping.

“I’m pretty excited, but everyone is really close in the standings,” she said. “It’s going to be a real surprise to see who comes out on top. It could go anyway. Anybody could honestly end on top in all the events.”

The Killdeer student, who will be a junior in the fall, reached the National High School Finals Rodeo in pole bending last season.

Though the event hasn’t been as kind to her this season, Bice is excelling in barrel racing.

“Barrels have been good and breakaway has also been going well,” she said.

Despite many cowgirls competing for one of the top four spots — which will qualify them for the national finals — in all three events, Bice said it helps put the added focus on every run.

“You almost get nervous, because you think, ‘I have to do well,’” she said. “But you can get yourself too psyched out and then you might make a mistakes. You have to take whatever you get and not be too upset about it, because we’ve all made it this far.”

Solid first season

Richardton’s Brendan Butterfield ended his first high school rodeo season in the No. 2 spot in boys cow cutting.

It’s not a bad start for Butterfield, who just finished his freshman year at Richardton.

“It’s kind of a relief that I’ve worked really hard and it finally starting to show,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield closed out the regular season with 107.5 points in the event, which puts him 7.5 points behind Kvamme.

The Richardton student will also be competing in tie-down roping, but he knows it will take a solid weekend to crack the top four. Butterfield currently sits in 11th for the event.

“I’m hoping to come away with a state title in the cutting,” he said. “In the calf roping, I’m going to have to have a really good weekend to get qualified for nationals.”

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Royal McGregor
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