JH Rodeo

Libby Hegemann, 12, and her horse Maya pose for a photograph before this week's National Junior High Finals Rodeo. Hegemann rides two more horses in rodeos, Joey and Pretty Girl.

St. Paul's Lutheran School student Libby Hegemann left for Huron, S.D., late last week.

“I'm really excited for a new adventure,” the 12-year-old said.

That adventure is the National Junior High Finals Rodeo (NJHFR), which started Sunday with its first performance. Hegemann's first attempt in the goat-tying was Tuesday during the fourth performance. The cowgirl's second run Thursday night during the ninth performance of the week-long rodeo, which features, approximately, 1,000 competitors from across the country. Her results will be in Tuesday's Washington County Pilot-Tribune.

“I've been told to just do my best,” Hegemann said in regards to dealing with her nerves.

So far, the young Arlington cowgirl has done quite well for herself. The daughter of Craig, a former college rodeo athlete, and Lindsay Hegemann said she first started riding an old horse named Bullet at a young age.

“He taught me a lot,” she noted.

Hegemann then moved onto youth rodeos in Fremont at the Christensen Field Arena with it all leading her to the past year's Nebraska junior high season. She competed in three fall rodeos and three spring rodeos, securing enough points to make the national finals.

Hegemann said she finished second in Ord, and also competed well in rodeos in both Valentine and Torrington, Wyo. She tests herself in four events — pole bending, barrel racing and breakaway roping among them — but favors goat-tying. Her best time is 8.2 seconds.

In goat-tying, the cowgirl rides her horse to the tethered-down animal, dismounts, catches the goat, dumps it over and ties three of its legs together to stop the clock. The goat must stay tied for six seconds for the cowgirl not to receive penalty time toward her score.

It is not too uncommon for goat-tiers to go rolling in the dirt when they dismount their horses. Hegemann admits that its happened to her — even at the state finals.

“But you've just got to roll with it,” she said.

And with that hard-work attitude the St. Paul's cowgirl hopes to score points for herself and Team Nebraska — which includes fellow goat-tiers Jace Hurlburt of Arcadia, Tatum Reid of Crawford and Jacei Spangler of Arthur — at the NJHFR.

Regardless of her efforts, Hegemann has already attainted a her first nationals back number — one just like the professionals get in Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo.

“I might frame that number,” she said.

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