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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 28, 1997)
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Students registered for classes Spring, 1997 can purchase a
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|summer = May 19- August 18,1997}
UNL ropes in
By Erin Gibson
WAHOO — With the restless bronc
before him, Kyle Whitaker slapped his
cheeks and jerked his head violently to
He lurched his body backward with
one hand extended, preparing to hold
on through a fierce eight-second ride.
Then, with eyes focused, he slipped
onto the bronc and nodded the OK.
The gate was flung open, and the bronc
exploded into the arena.
“There’s nothing else like it,” he
said after a successful ride. “It’s the
best natural high there is.”
Whitaker, a University of Nebraska
Lincoln sophomore who competes with
the college rodeo team, wan th&men’s
all-around honors and belt buckle at the
UNL Rodeo this weekend iri Wahoo.
The University of Nebraska Rodeo
Association was host for the 39th-an
nual event, which showcased the skills
of about 300 college cowboys and
cowgirls from colleges around the
Great Plains region.
A Kr\nt OH mrrmptitAre ranrocontino
the UNL team went into the contest
tired from planning the rodeo, and the
pressure seemed to hurt the team’s
But six team members made it to
the weekend’s final round—the “short
go” — with Whitaker finishing first
in calf roping and Pat Williams plac
ing third in bull riding. Whitaker also
competed in saddle bronc riding.
In the short go, other UNL com
petitors were Stoney Fred in team rop
ing, Sara Ragatz in barrel racing, Jamie
Chaffin in goat tying and Jeff
Richardson in steer wrestling.
Several other team members, in
cluding Janet Ebert and Jasper Fan
ning, were ranked 11th in events after
Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Only the top 10 competitors in each
event could compete in Saturday
night’s short go competition.
Jud Skavdahl, UNL senior and ro
deo club president, said he wished
more of his teammates had made the
cut for the short go competition.
“It’s been a long week,” he said of
the days in which the pressure of try
ing to fit practice for competition in
with organizing a successful rodeo
wore on the team.
UNL SOPHOMORE JEFF RICHARDSON practices throwing his ropo around the
horns of a plastic steer head between rodeo competitions Saturday afternoon.
Richardson said his father started him roping “as soon as I could throw.”
George Pfeiffer, UNL professor of ag
ricultural economics and rodeo team ad
viser, also said the week was a struggle for
the team, which would have liked to have
performed better in their rodeo.
He said he took pride in his team
for the quality of its rodeo, though.
“I get as much pride in seeing all the
kids work together to put on a rodeo as I
do seeing them competing,” Pfeiffer said.
Rodeo club members dedicated
countless hours to the rodeo, he said,
and those competing spent even more
hours practicing for individual events.
“They know what they want to do, and
they really work hard to do it,” he said.
And that gets tough when the day’s
rodeo competition starts at 8 a.m. and
ends just before 10 p.m., as it did Sat
urday. Friday night’s competition
ended at about 9:30.
Rodeo spectators see a portion of the
long weekend competition, and few ever
glimpse the in-between hours of caring
for stock and practicing for an event.
For UNL team members, sleep was
a fleeting moment Saturday, caught
while they slumped onto the grass by
their horses. Members cared for their
horses between Saturday’s afternoon
and evening rodeo rounds before car
ing for themselves.
They fought drooping eyes, know
ing Sunday they would travel to Madi
son to compete again at 2 p.m. The
rodeo team competes in Madison un
til Monday night.
But Skavdahl said Saturday night’s
loud crowd helped the weary UNL cow
boys and cowgirls in the short go wake
up and put in some good performances.
A full house makes a rodeo hap
pen, he said, and even the stock ani
mals know when the house is full, and
perform at their peak.
Because bronc and bull riding
events are scored partly on the diffi- 11
culty of the ride, scores rise for cow
boys when the broncs and bulls draw
energy from the crowd’s excitement
and buck harder, Skavdahl said.
Skavdahl credits the excitement of
competition and his teammates’ sup
port for keeping him in rodeo compe
titions throughout college.
Team members become close
friends and support each other through
hours of practice at their arena on East
Campus and through hours of travel
ing together to spring rodeos, he said.
But, although the UNL Rodeo is
over, the hours of practice and travel
are not over for the team.
The team will compete in six ro
deos this spring, then top-scoring com
petitors in each event will compete in
the College National Finals Rodeo in
Rapid City, S.D.
UNL JUNIOR SARA RAGATZ rounds the final barrel during Saturday night’s short go barrel race in the UNL Rodeo.
Ragatz ranks fifth in the Great Plains Region in goat tying and seventh in breakaway roping.
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