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Nagel rounding out youth career at nationals

SPRINGFIELD — A youth rodeo career that started when Chesney Nagel was 8 years old, competing in local 4-H rodeos, will end at the sport’s biggest stage for high schoolers at the 66th annual National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo. The event begins Sunday and runs through July 19.

Nagel, who placed in the top four in all three of her events at the state finals in Belle Fourche on June 23, said she is looking forward to the wild atmosphere in her third and final trip to the NHSRF.

“The atmosphere is awesome,” said Nagel, of Springfield. “Everyone has their team camps in the grandstands and every state cheers super loud when they have a person competing.”

Nagel will be competing in barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping at the rodeo. At the state finals, she finished third in barrel racing and breakaway roping and fourth in goat tying.

“It’s so exciting,” Nagel said. “It’s not like a normal sporting event where you cheer for a made basket or a touchdown. Everyone just cheers all the time no matter what.”

The NHSRF is known for being “The World’s Largest Rodeo” because 1,500 contestants from across the United States, Canada and Australia compete at the event.

“It’s really cool to spend a whole week out there with a bunch of different people,” Nagel said.

Having previously competed in the NHSRF her freshman and sophomore years, Nagel knows what to expect going into the competition. But this will be the first time she competes in three different events.

“I am looking forward to competing in all three events for the first time,” Nagel said. “Goat tying and barrel racing are my favorite events, but I am hoping to advance in at least one of the events.”

Competing in rodeos has been a family affair for the Nagels, as Chesney’s older brother and sister have competed at the NHSRF before her.

“It’s just a big family thing and we love going on this trip,” Nagel said. “It works as a great family vacation.”

Competing in youth rodeos for the Nagel family does not end with Chesney, as she has two younger sisters — a 14-year-old and 9-year-old — looking to follow her footsteps and compete at the NHSRF in the future.

Having missed attending the NHSRF her junior year because of a trip to Costa Rica, Nagel said she will try to make the most out of this final opportunity.

“I am definitely going to be sad when it’s over,” Nagel said. “I will enjoy this year’s event a whole lot and appreciate it more.”

Other area competitors

Seven other area competitors will help Nagel represent South Dakota at the NHSRF. Joining team South Dakota at the rodeo will be Cedar Jandreau, of Kennebec; Rylee Jo Rutten, of Colome; Erin Kenzy, of Iona; Bailey Moody, of Letcher; Brandi Cwach, of Geddes; Cameron Fanning, of Olivet; and James Kirwan, of Bonesteel.

Jandreau will also be making her third trip to nationals and she is hoping to build off her first-place finish in breakaway roping at the South Dakota state finals.

“I’m hoping the third time’s the charm,” said Jandreau, who, like Nagel, has not placed at the NHSRF in two previous experiences. “I’m hoping to go get a national title.”

Along with Jandreau, Kenzy and Moody took first at state and look to make the short go at nationals. Kenzy won the girls cutting event, while Moody finished atop the girls pole bending field.

At nationals, Rutten will compete in breakaway roping, Cwach in goat tying, Fanning in steer wrestling and Kirwan in tie-down roping.