BELLE FOURCHE — South Dakota’s best high school rodeo athletes are in Belle Fourche for the state finals, held at the Roundup Grounds.

Events began Tuesday with first go-rounds in cutting and reined cow horse. 

The second go-round of those events is today, with the first two performances set for Thursday.

South Dakota High School Rodeo Association Board President Lance Lesmeister really enjoys watching the athletes compete at the finals.

“It seems like the kids are excited to be there,” Lesmeister said. He added athletes who may not have had the best practice rodeos come to compete at state.

Preparation includes fundraising for the association, and Lesmeister said the academic side of things is also observed. An annual meeting in September sets up everything for 2019, and a mid-winter meeting helps determine personnel and other things for the finals.

“Everybody’s got a part at state,” Lesmeister said. “Some take care of one arena; some take care of another and deal with everything that we have to do there.”

Lesmeister said all board members except the secretary are volunteers.

Events include a Special Needs rodeo at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the short go-round at 3 p.m. that day.

What makes the state finals a success from the board’s perspective?

“When everything comes together, and everything operates smoothly,” Lesmeister said. “We get our kids qualified for nationals, and everybody gets to nationals in good shape.”

This will mark the last year for the state finals through Belle Fourche for the foreseeable future. Ft. Pierre will host in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“It will be a big move,” said Lesmeister. He added Pierre, Ft. Pierre, the county commission, and the fair board committee came together with the proposal.

“Sometimes change is good, but it’s been awful good in Belle Fourche,” Lesmeister said. “Belle Fourche has been an awful good facility, and they do a good job.”

Lesmeister said he would like to really see the state finals work in a type of rotation schedule. He added it gives the committee, sponsors, and everyone else some breathing room to become re-enthused about it returning.

Area competitors follow.

BOYS’ CUTTING

Belle Fourche: Cain Birkeland, Bradey Labrier. 

Sturgis: Bodie Mattson.

GIRLS’ CUTTING

Spearfish: Madison Smith. 

Belle Fourche: Kylee Crago, Jayme Peterson.

Sturgis: Sidney Peterson.

REINED COW HORSE

Sturgis: Bodie Mattson, Sidney Peterson.

BREAKAWAY ROPING

Sturgis: Shania Larive, Wacey Brown, Kiara Brown, Sidney Peterson.

Belle Fourche: Sydney Fuerst, Payson Birkeland, Kylee Crago, Molly Ryan, Chantel Kolb, Whitley Reder, Shyanne Howell.

Newell: Acelyn Brink.

POLE BENDING

Sturgis: Wacey Brown, Shania Larive, Sidney Peterson. 

Belle Fourche: Molly Ryan, Jayme Peterson, Chantel Kolb, Shyanne Howell.

Newell: Acelyn Brink.

Spearfish: Madison Smith, Shaylie Holben.

GOAT TYING

Belle Fourche: Kylee Crago.

Newell: Kayden Steele, Acelyn Brink. 

BARREL RACING

Sturgis: Wacey Brown, Shania Larive, Sidney Peterson. 

Belle Fourche: Shyanne Howell, Sydney Fuerst, Natalie McCoy, Chantel Kolb. 

Newell: Acelyn Brink.

BAREBACK RIDING

Belle Fourche: Cayden Wolfe, Colton Shelley.

STEER WRESTLING

Belle Fourche: Bradey Labrier, Tee McAmis, Chase Bickerdyke, Jesse Thybo. 

Sturgis: Logan Lemmel, Bodie Mattson.

SADDLE BRONC RIDING

Sturgis: Clint Donaldson.

TIE DOWN ROPING

Sturgis: Bodie Mattson. 

Newell: Tucker Gaer.

Belle Fourche: Lan Fuhrer. 

BULL RIDING

Sturgis: Kane Grant.

TEAM ROPING

Belle Fourche: Lan Fuhrer, Chantel Kolb, Cain Birkeland, Jesse Thybo, Bradey Labrier, Payson Birkeland, Riley Birkeland, Jasmyn Jensen. Shyanne Howell, Tee McAmis. 

Newell: Jessica Heil, Kai Banks, Acelyn Brink, Tucker Gaer. 

Sturgis: Sidney Peterson, Bodie Mattson.

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