Rodeo stampedes into Ames

Kyle Ferguson

Calves were roped, horses were ridden and entertainment was rustled up at the 45th annual Cyclone Stampede Rodeo on Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s incredible. This is my first competition, and this is the biggest rush I’ve ever had,” said Chase McGrath, a competitor from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Teams from across the Midwest came to Ames to compete in the rodeo, which consisted of events ranging from steer wrestling, bull riding and a barrel race.

“There are 10 rodeos in the region each year, and we go to every one,” said Joann Kochie, of Hokah, Minn.

Her daughter, Adriane, rides for the University of Wisconsin at Platteville and competed in the barrel race event.

Sunday was the short-round competition, in which the top 10 people in each event competed. Saturday was the lengthier day, as each of the 10 events had 30 to 40 people competing in them.

Setup for this event had been going on for the last few weeks, said Rita Cook, sophomore in agricultural business and member of the ISU Rodeo Club.

“The committee starts planning the next rodeo right after the previous one ends, but the club has only been getting the grounds set up for the last three, three-and-a-half weeks,” Cook said. About 150 people attended, which Cook said is a lower figure than normal.

“I just think it’s because of the weather – which isn’t perfect – but Saturday we had every bleacher packed, and people were standing in between them to try and see the events,” she said.

It’s not just the rodeo and cattle enthusiasts that show up to these events, either.

“There’s students supporting their university here, there’s friends and relatives of competitors, there’s grandfolks who grew up doing this type of stuff, there’s just a lot of people here,” Kochie said. “You could really see that on Saturday, when there was barely any room on the bleachers.”

There was an emergency vehicle present in case of injury, which is not unheard of in rodeo.

“Riders could get caught in the ropes on the saddle, they could get dragged along with the horse or the bull,” Cook said. “It’s about as physical as football.”

McGrath knows the risks, and he still loves the thrill.

“I actually train independently, and since I’m technically part of the University of Nebraska team, they have to sign this waiver that says I know what I’m doing,” he said.

McGrath competed in the saddle bronc event, which is just like bull riding, except that the rider is on a horse.

“There’s a lot more to this than just strength.” he said. “I mean, obviously strength is a big factor, but you have to be able to concentrate on the moment. It’s not as easy as some people think.”