HASTINGS — The Nebraska High School Rodeo season wrapped up last weekend with the high school finals in Hastings at the Adams County Fairgrounds. Rodeo athletes from across the Cornhusker State competed in two go-rounds on June 13-14 and the short go-round on June 15. The top four contestants in each of the 14 events were determined, and they will go on to compete at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, WY., from July 15-21.
Champions from the 2019 finals included Jenae Whitaker of Chambers in barrel racing. She also was named the Girls Rook of the Year.
Whitaker's mishap 10 days before state finals didn’t affect her barrel racing.
The 15-year-old cowgirl broke her left wrist during practice, but decided competing at state was still possible.
She chose to not compete in the goat tying, which she had qualified in, but continued with the barrels, pole bending and breakaway.
The wrist didn’t bother her in Hastings at all.
"The first few days (after it was broken) it hurt pretty bad. After that, I got used to it and it didn’t hurt as bad. It became the new normal," she said.
However, she won’t be swimming for a few weeks and "that is kind of rough," she said.
Whitaker didn’t knock over any barrels during state finals, allowing her to keep her lead even though she finished sixth in the first round, ninth in the second round and sixth in the short round.
“Some of the other cowgirls behind me (in the standings) knocked over barrels, so I knew I needed to be consistent,” she said.
She will be a sophomore at Chambers Public High School this fall. She is involved in FFA, FCCLA, student council, one acts and quiz bowl and is on the honor roll.
She is the daughter of Kyle Whitaker and Halie Forre.