Extended daylight equates to extra improvement. That’s what National Junior High Finals Rodeo qualifier Teagan Roukema is certainly hoping for.
Roukema, who will be an incoming freshman this fall at Ignacio High School, will be competing at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds in both tie-down roping and chute dogging. He improved in his specialty events, as he was a top-10 finisher during last season’s Colorado Junior High Rodeo Association action, but improved to top-four status this season.
“I’ve been practicing a lot,” he said Tuesday, just a couple days before leaving the Pine River Valley and beginning the long haul to Huron, South Dakota. “We have a dummy we can tie, that’ll make us faster [and it] helps us out with our times. So every night before I go to bed, I tie my dummy as much as I can. And every other day I rope off my horse.”
Roukema did not qualify for nationals in 2018 after he finished in 10th in tie-down roping and 11th in chute dogging. He ended up fourth in this season’s year-end tie-down points. Colby Runner of Wellington and Samuel Gallagher of Brighton stood 1-2, with Yuma’s Coy Evans third, and third in chute dogging, and Ignacio’s Kyle Rima came in sixth after all was said and done up at the Moffat County Fairgrounds in Craig last month.
Roukema indicated that physical growth, more than anything, contributed to his increased success.
“I grew a lot, which helped me out a lot in both those events,” said Roukema, whose versatility landed him eighth in the CJHRA All-Around Cowboy points. “And over the summer, I wanted to make it to this level, so I just worked as much as I could to make it. It means a lot to me.”
Roukema’s guaranteed tie-down attempts are currently slated to take place Monday and Friday next week, while his chute dogging tries are set for Tuesday evening and Thursday morning.
Having previously qualified for the NJHFR back in 2017, Roukema has elevated expectations for his return.
“I made it to Tennessee in team roping with my brother,” he said. “Usually, team roping’s my favorite event, but I’d say tie-down is the most fun; there’s a lot that goes into it. Once you figure it out, it’s pretty cool.
“And chute dogging’s going to be really fun; those steers in South Dakota are big, but I want to accomplish being in the top 20 of both my events; they take the top 20 for the short-go, and I want to make it! That’s what I’m really striving for.”
The 15th NJHFR begins Sunday and runs through Saturday, June 29, with over one thousand competitors expected. The 2020 edition will be held in Des Moines, Iowa.
SPEAKING OF WHICHRoukema and Bayfield native Mitchell Story combined to place seventh in the CJHRA year-end team roping points. Though they won’t be traveling to South Dakota as a duo, they will be as individuals.
Earning a return to Huron and third consecutive NJHFR trip, Story, a BHS freshman-to-be, is entered in saddle-bronc steer riding. He topped the table in ’18-19, and was 16th in All-Around points, with his assured efforts scheduled for the morning of the 25th and evening of the 27th. He qualified last summer in the same discipline, but according to records, did not log a score.