The KHS Rodeo Club corralled three wins at the 52nd Annual Killdeer High School Rodeo on May 8 at the Killdeer Rodeo Grounds.
By Jennifer Strange
For the DC Herald
Ty Truchan of Killdeer and Hayes Lemieux of Manning (both juniors at KHS) took first place in Team Roping. KHS freshman Riley Reiss of Manning took second place in Steer Wrestling. KHS senior Codi Schaper of Grassy Butte landed a third place in Goat Tying.
“These kids are working and practicing hard to keep the western heritage alive,” said KHS Rodeo Club Advisor Kami Kling. Kling has been helping the team since 2008.
“We had a great turnout, with well over 120 competitors from all around North Dakota and a few from neighboring states,” Kling said. The event is thought to be the largest in the rodeo’s half-century of history, with 40 kids competing in Calf Roping and 89 girls competing in Barrel Racing.
“Rodeo numbers are up, which is great because that means the sport of rodeo is growing,” said Kling.
Kara Bang, who owns Taylor Bang Cattle Sales with her husband, helped process entries in the Rodeo Office. She saw more kids than ever entering the competitions, including football, basketball and track athletes who decided to rodeo in order to be with their friends.
“The interest in rodeo in general is greater every year,” said Bang. “The kids want to do it because it’s a social event and because they want to be part of a generation that’s keeping rodeo and its meaning alive in this community.”
The western tradition of rodeo has deep roots in Dunn County, which is home to North Dakota’s oldest rodeo grounds. Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo Arena was first established eight miles north of town in 1923. The arena was moved to its current location, at the southwest corner of Killdeer, in the late 1940s.
“Everything about the grounds and this high school rodeo is very important for the region,” Bang said. Rodeo teaches values that help students in both rural and academic worlds, said Bang.
“The athletes learn to work together with livestock, they build a team effort between horse and rider and there’s the thrill of competition,” she said. “There are so many variables that all speak to the western way of life.”
The cowboys and cowgirls who traveled to Killdeer got to play outside the rodeo arena as well. On Friday, May 7, the High Plains Cultural Center hosted a spirited basketball and volleyball activity night.
“It was so nice to give the kids and families who came from all over something to do in our community for the evening,” said Kling. “We’d like to add a big thank-you to the center.”
Additional help came from event sponsors (see Results box), Killdeer Fire Department, Killdeer Area Ambulance and the team of volunteers who helped make the rodeo possible.