story by Ruth Nicolaus Kate Rathjen has set standards and goals for herself. When the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association cowgirl was a little girl, […]
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Meet the Member Jessica Stevens
story by Ruth Nicolaus
It was a missed goat at state finals that gave Jessica Stevens even more incentive to excel in the goat tying at the National High School Finals Rodeo.
The Creighton, Neb. cowgirl, a member of the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, won seven of thirteen rodeos in the 2019 fall season and came into the 2020 state finals in first place, fifty points ahead of the number two girl.
But in the first round at state, her goat got up, and she finished the 2019-2020 season as the reserve state champ, one point behind the number one girl, Emma Ohm. “I was so upset about it, so I kept pushing myself harder, to do better,” she said.
That gave the seventeen-year-old motivation to work even harder for Nationals, and a mediocre showing at the Little Britches Rodeo Finals added more fuel.
While she was in Guthrie, Okla., for two and a half-weeks, for the Little Britches Finals and Nationals, she and a friend ground-tied three goats every morning at six am, taping and critiquing each other’s runs.
It helped. At Nationals, she finished eighth in the first round (7.78 seconds); third in the second round (7.47), and third in the short round (7.31) to be reserve champion.
She’s walking and running on two Achilles tendons that were partially torn last year, due to constant pressure from basketball and rodeo. They’re nearly back to one hundred percent, she said, but because of them, she’s not going to play basketball this year, saving her time and her tendons for rodeo.
As a senior at Creighton Community School, she is good at math and this year is taking calculus. Last year, even with Zoom learning, she made it through trigonometry. History is her least favorite class; it’s hard to stay awake in it, she said.
In school, Jessica is involved in FFA (as vice-president this year), Health Occupations Students of America (as president), as a mentor in TeamMates, and FCCLA. She played golf and ran track during her underclassman years. She has a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
She’s a hard worker, too, working at the local convenience store and driving straight truck for her dad’s custom chopping business. She hauls silage, earlage, haylage, sorghum, whatever needs to be transported, and she usually gets the non-air conditioned truck. If she’s on the road all day, she’ll pack a lunch and jam out to country music on the radio. If she wants snacks, she goes to her sister’s truck. Older sister Becky has a tub of them: rice krispie bars, granola bars, fruit snacks, Ho-Hos, all the snack goodies.
This winter, Jessica plans on rodeoing in a youth series in Kansas. She has qualified for the Vegas Tuffest Jr World Championship in the 19 and under breakaway roping and goat tying.
She’s weighing her options for her college studies. Jessica has been offered scholarships but wants to visit the campuses of several schools: Dawson Community College in Glendive, Montana, Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.; Kansas State University in Manhattan, Garden City (Kan.) Community College; and Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif. She’d like to study veterinary medicine or equine therapy.
Her failures and successes in the goat tying this year showed her that a person can never count themselves out. “You can never give up,” she said.
In addition to her sister Becky, she has two more sisters (Khristina and Stephanie), a younger brother Augustus, nephews Emmett and Gentry, and twin nieces Abbi and Charli.
Jessica also breakaway ropes and team ropes, heeling for Emma Ohm.
She is the daughter of Gene Stevens and Heather and Travis Stacken.