SDSU kicks-off the spring rodeo season with the 67th annual Jackrabbit Stampede

Rodeo fans and contestants from across the Great Plains braved the winter weather to fill the stands at the Swiftel Center in Brookings, South Dakota, for the 67th Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo.

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Chance Grill waits for his next event during the 2023 Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo.
Ariana Schumacher / Agweek

BROOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota State University rodeo athletes kicked off their spring season with their home rodeo on March 31 and April 1, welcoming around 275 competitors from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“It’s a lot of fun, definitely a lot of fun to do especially having all the energy of your home crowd and being in your own arena,” said Chance Grill, SDSU calf roping, team roping and steer wrestling competitor.

For sophomore Rayha Richert, the stampede is her favorite rodeo of the season.

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Rayha Richert competes in barrel racing during the Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo.
Ariana Schumacher/Agweek

“This rodeo is personally my favorite, which is slightly biased because it’s my home rodeo, but it’s always a lot of fun,” Richert said.

This rodeo brings in crowds of between 3,500 or 4,500 spectators to the stands.


“The Brookings crowd has been around forever, for rodeos and everything like that, especially following SDSU rodeo, the whole region knows that the Brookings crowd is going to be electric, and they know rodeo,” said Ron Skovly, SDSU rodeo coach.

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SDSU rodeo athletes compete in the team roping event.
Ariana Schumacher/ Agweek

Being a rodeo athlete in college can be challenging, but these competitors say it is worth it.

“I am an exercise science major, so I have a lot of school, plus doing three events, and it gets really stressful with practice and everything, but once you get a system down it flows pretty easy,” Richert said. “I have been doing rodeo since my seventh grade year and it has just grown to be my favorite thing and I don’t think I could see myself not doing it.”

“I’m a student athlete,” Grill said. “I mean I get to do what I love to do and then get to go to school while I am doing it.”

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Athletes compete in the steer wrestling at the Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo.
Ariana Schumacher /Agweek

Last fall, the team competed in five rodeos, and now they are able to get back into the rodeo circuit with their home rodeo.

“Half time is over, and we are just kind of getting right back into it again and the team is sitting up in there, top five in the region. But yeah, we’ve got some checking up to do. But we will get there by the end of this season,” Skovly said.

Having a rodeo team on campus helps to carry on the tradition of the state’s official sport, a tradition they hope to continue for generations.

“Just the tradition of where we came from and where we are going now,” Skovly said. “The boosters have grown in the last three or four years, just huge, so we are getting a lot more support and have got plans for facilities in the future.”


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An athlete participates at the Jackrabbit Stampede Rodeo.
Ariana Schumacher/Agweek

The SDSU rodeo team finished the rodeo with the women’s team placing second overall and the men’s team placing fifth overall.

Ariana is a reporter for Agweek based out of South Dakota. She graduated from South Dakota State University in 2022 with a double major in Agricultural Communications and Journalism, with a minor in Animal Science. She is currently a graduate student at SDSU, working towards her Masters of Mass Communications degree. She enjoys reporting on all things agriculture and sharing the stories that matter to both the producers and the consumers.

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