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Rutten family ready for state rodeo finals

COLOME -- Rylee Jo and Reid Rutten feel like they have an advantage over other team roping competitors.

The siblings, of Colome, are able to practice daily together with their father, Digger, who is the Tripp County rodeo team adviser and public relations director for the South Dakota High School Rodeo Association.

"It's really comforting because my dad's always there to help us," Rylee said earlier this week. "I think it's easier to compete with my brother, too. I don't feel as bad when I miss because we rope together all the time. (Reid) gives me pointers and he'll help me out."

The pair will get an opportunity to compete for top honors this weekend in the SDHSRA state finals, which begins Friday and concludes Sunday in Belle Fourche. This is Rylee's fourth state finals and Reid's third. Other than team roping, Rylee, who will join the Eastern Wyoming College rodeo team in the fall, is competing in breakaway roping and goat tying, while Reid is competing in steer wrestling and tiedown.

In team roping, the Ruttens are bringing 17 points to state that they earned in the regional rodeos.

To qualify for the state finals, competitors must earn at least three points in the event he or she competes in at the regional rodeos. Participants receive 10 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third and one point for finishing from fourth to 10th place.

Each competitor has two runs in the long go Friday and Saturday and the top 15 competitors in each event will compete in the short go on Sunday, with the top four qualifying for nationals.

There are about 520 members in the state and 324 qualified for this weekend's state finals.

"South Dakota is very competitive," Digger said. "We have a great group in South Dakota rodeo, and I'm very happy to be a part of it."

Along with his children, Digger coaches a handful of others in the Tripp County area. Seven, including Rylee and Reid, qualified for the state finals. Those competitors include Brandon Moody, of Winner; Wiley Heath, of Colome; Payton Eagle-Pravecek, of Winner; Karissa Odenbach, of Hamill; and Lane Fawcett, of Colome.

The rodeo team gets together once a week to practice in Winner. Reid said everyone is close and wants to see each other succeed.

"It will be the first year for state for a lot of them," he said, adding his goal is to make Sunday's short go to give him a shot at qualifying for nationals. "Rylee and I can show them around and help them out."

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.