Minot, N.D. (September 25, 2023) – The best cowboys and cowgirls in the Dakotas will be in Minot next month for the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo.
And these number ones lead the charge, in their respective events. North Dakota cowboy Chase Lako leads the tie-down roping. The Mandan man has won more than $17,000, with this the fifth time he has qualified for the Badlands Circuit Finals. A financial advisor by day, rodeo is more of a “hobby” for he and his wife Kennedi, a barrel racer. “It’s a hobby but a serious one,” he said. “My wife and I go to the barn every night and we’re riding five or six horses.” He will ride his nine-year-old gelding named Dunnie, who he trained.
South Dakota cowboy Mason Moody is on top of the pile of bull riders. The 20-year-old is in his rookie year of PRCA action, and went straight from high school to rodeo. He competed in the PBR last year but decided to switch to professional rodeo this spring, and has done well, having won money at rodeos in Newtown, N.D., Mobridge, S.D., and Hamel, Minn. “I felt like I could make a pretty good living rodeoing so I decided to pro rodeo and it’s worked out for me,” he said. “I’m definitely paying my bills, and this is definitely something you’ll always remember, when you look back at your rodeo career.” Moody has more than $31,000 in winnings, ahead of the number two man, Chance Schott, who has won nearly $20,000. Moody’s first trip to the Badlands Circuit Finals was two years ago, when he was a high school senior. He also qualified last year. He is ranked 36th in the world standings.
In the barrel racing, a fan favorite, Jessica Routier, leads her event. The South Dakota cowgirl has won more than $20,000 this year, having done well at Mandan and Killdeer, N.D., and Mobridge and Deadwood, S.D. She also won the NFR Open (previously known as the National Circuit Finals Rodeo), which gave her a big boost in the world standings. Champs from each circuit finals qualify for the NFR Open, held in Colorado Springs in July. It was “super exciting,” she said, “and a result of winning the circuit finals, and all the more motivation to try to get back there this year.” For most of the year, she rode Missy, her twelve-year-old mare who is a multiple Badlands Circuit Barrel Horse of the Year winner. She also rode Nicki, a daughter of the mare she won her first Badlands Circuit title on. Routier, Buffalo, S.D., has won six year-end titles in the Badlands Circuit (2010, 2017, 2019-2022).
Another North Dakota cowboy, Joe Nelson, comes into the circuit finals in first place, in the steer wrestling. The Watford City resident had planned to rodeo across the nation, but a horse injury forced him to come home and ride a borrowed horse. He rode River Voigt’s horse, Woody, and on Woody, won money in Mobridge and Belle Fourche, S.D., Ashley and Killdeer, N.D. and Gordon, Neb. Nelson rodeoed in the circuit and worked as a horse shoer and electrician. As a kid, his sport of choice was baseball, not rodeo. One day, he participated in a youth rodeo, winning the dummy roping, “and it was game on from there,” he said. “I told my parents I was done playing baseball.” Nelson, who is 28 years old, won the average at the 2019 Badlands Circuit Finals. This is his fourth trip to the finals.
Other leaders coming into the circuit finals include bareback rider Ben Kramer, Max, N.D.; saddle bronc rider Shorty Garrett, Eagle Butte, S.D.; team ropers Bodie Mattson, Sturgis, S.D. (header) and Cash Hetzel, Lemmon, S.D. (heeler); and breakaway roper Tanegai Zilverberg, Holabird, S.D. The top twelve contestants in each of eight events, after the pro rodeo season, compete at the Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo. The rodeo is Oct. 13-15, with shows starting at 7 pm on Oct. 13-14 and at 1 pm on Oct. 15. Tickets are $25 for adult general admission and $10 for kids ages 3-10. Gold buckle seats, the five rows closest to the arena floor, are $35 for all ages.
The October 15 performance is Family Day with all general admission tickets at $10. They are available online at RodeoMinot.com, at North Country Mercantile in Minot (2000 20thAvenue SE) and at the gate. For more information, visit the website at RodeoMinot. com or Facebook and Instagram (search for Badlands Circuit Finals Rodeo.)