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 Mataya Eklund
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Mataya Eklund is the 2019 Nebraska State High School Rodeo Association breakaway roping and girls all-around champion. The Valentine, Nebraska cowgirl competed at Nationals in the breakaway and the pole bending, as she finished fourth in the poles at state.
She also competed at state in the goat tying and barrels.
For the breakaway, Mataya rides a nine-year-old sorrel mare named Sunny, who was lent to her by her uncle Matt Elliott. For the poles, she rides another eight-year-old sorrel mare, Patty, and for the goats, it’s a fourteen-year-old bay mare named Bam Bam. The barrels is on a horse named Pacman who is borrowed from her grandma, Rose Ann Ewan.
Her horses have a lot of personality, she says. Patty is the go-getter, always on the move. Sunny is a little spooky and has some quirks but “she works good, so the quirks are worth it,” Mataya says. Bam Bam was given to her by her brother Triston on her sixteenth birthday. She breakaway roped on Bam Bam for a while, but Bam Bam turned out to be a better goat tying horse. And she’s especially attached to Pacman. She’s ridden him since sixth grade, and “he’s won me a lot. I really like him. He always gets his way.”
The eighteen-year-old is a 2019 graduate of Valentine High School, where she was involved in volleyball, basketball (serving as team captain last year), and was on the high honor roll.
This summer, she’s working at a local boutique in Valentine but spends most of her time at Uncle Matt’s, riding horses. Uncle Matt is her mom’s brother, and the two share a special bond. “I love my uncle,” she said. “He’s great.” Her unique name came from her uncle’s name. In Spanish, Matthew is Mateo, and to give it a feminine flair, her mom created the name Mataya.
This summer she has competed at the International Finals Youth Rodeo and taken in a Kane Brown concert in North Platte. The family will also take a camping trip to Merritt Dam. They don’t camp often, but since Mataya is the youngest child and the last to leave home, her mom would like to spend some family time together.
Mataya loves her mom’s spaghetti and brownies, and likes to wash it down with a Dr. Pepper. Her favorite candy is Reese’s, and her favorite fruit is blueberries and veggie is green beans.
Her most favorite trip was a vacation to South Carolina this past spring. Mataya and her friend rode their bikes from their lodging to the beach, and even though it was too cool to swim, she dipped a toe into the Atlantic Ocean. “It was super relaxing and a really cool experience.”
This fall, she will attend West Texas A&M in Canyon, where she will compete in the barrels, breakaway and goat tying. She hopes to study psychology and be a counselor someday. She is attending college on rodeo and academic scholarships.
Mataya’s trip to Nationals last month was her third trip to the high school finals. She also competed at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo all three years. She has three older brothers: Dillon, Triston and Noah. She is the daughter of Misti and Boe Bown and Jarred Eklund.