Zap’s Blake Smith already has bareback title wonBlake Smith is more relaxed than most contestants preparing for the North Dakota High School Rodeo Association’s state finals this weekend. The Zap bareback rider already has his state championship locked up.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Blake Smith is more relaxed than most contestants preparing for the North Dakota High School Rodeo Association’s state finals this weekend.
The Zap bareback rider already has his state championship locked up.
With a 43-point lead and only 40 points available to contestants in an event, Smith said he is ready to let it rip today in the first of two long rounds at Bowman’s Dakota Winds Arena.
“Since I kind of already have it wrapped up, I’m going for it all, high scores, anything to make the crowd happy,” Smith said. “Try to put on a show and go for really high scores.”
Smith finished third in the 2009-10 season standings but said his senior year turned out far better.
“I’ve been really, really lucky,” he said. “I’ve got on a lot of really good horses.”
He has had a lot of good help, too.
The Dickinson State-bound cowboy said he has received a lot of tips and tricks from one of the best bareback riders in history: 11-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier and 1992 world bareback riding champion Wayne Herman.
Herman doesn’t live far from Smith, who graduated from Beulah High School in May.
“It helps a crazy amount,” Smith said. “Getting advice from Wayne Herman is like getting (football) advice from Brett Favre.”
Killdeer team ropers chasing state title
The Killdeer team roping duo of senior Pase Kukla and junior River Voigt know they have a chance to score big this weekend at the state finals.
“I’m thinking we’ll just have to get three down in a good time, get the average and hope everything goes right for us,” Voigt said.
While Berthold’s Cotey Hanson and Mohall’s Levi O’Keeffe are atop the team roping standings once again — they won it two years ago and had the title snactched out form under them last year — Voigt and Kukla aren’t out of the mix.
The Killdeer cowboys are 20 points behind Hanson and O’Keeffe. It’s a very manageable total to make up in an event as open as team roping.
“It’s going to be close,” Kukla said. “It’s going to be really hard, but it’s doable.”
Kathrein, Scooter set for run at barrel racing title
Dickinson’s Michaela Kathrein is going into the state finals with an 11-point lead in the barrel racing.
“I just need to go into the weekend and make good clean runs and see what happens, and not get stressed about it,” Kathrein said.
The recent Dickinson High School graduate finished as the state’s runner-up in the barrel racing last season.
This season, Kathrein and her barrel horse, Scooter, have won four rodeos this year and rarely finished outside the top 10.
“He’s still running hard,” Kathrein said of her horse. “He’s been there the whole season. I don’t think anything is going to change by state.”
Morman leads in 2 events going into finals
In the fall, Cameron Morman is a two-sport star.
An all-conference tailback for the New Salem-Glen Ullin football team, Morman said he spends the first four weeks of the season playing games on Friday nights and then getting in a car and driving across the state just so he can make it to rodeos.
In the spring, however, all of the Glen Ullin High School junior’s efforts are poured into rodeo.
He comes into the state finals with a 16-point lead in the tie-down roping and a 10-point lead in the steer wrestling.
“I’ve got keep doing what I’ve been doing, place in the top two or three at every rodeo and I’ll be fine,” Morman said.
-- Halliday’s Camren Decouteau needs one good score in the bull riding to lock up his first state championship. He has a 28.5-point lead over Menoken’s Alex Kleinsasser.
-- Taylor Buchholz of Fort Ransom has a 30-point lead over Richardton’s Dalton Rixen in the saddle bronc riding. Belfield’s Ian Fugere is third in the standings but is out of the title chase.
-- Killdeer’s Morgan LeMieux and Skye Schaper are second and third, respectively, behind Ellendale’s Audri Orwig in the pole bending standings. Orwig holds a 28-point lead.
-- Mandan’s Teddi Schwagler and Watford City’s Samantha Jorgenson are separated by less than one point in the girls all-around standings. Jorgenson leads the girls cow cutting and is tied for fourth in the team roping. Both girls compete in the barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying.
-- Chase Lako of Arthur has a sizeable lead in the boys all-around standings. He is in the hunt for the boys cow cutting title, is second behind Morman in the tie-down roping, is fifth in steer wrestling and is tied for fourth in team roping.