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Meet the Member Rio Nutter
story by Jaicee Williams
Rio Nutter, a graduated senior from Rapid City Central, is a fourth-generation cowboy on his dad’s side who fell in love with the sport of rodeo at an early age. His roping career started at two years old when he won his first dummy roping. “I actually won it swinging backwards,” laughed Rio. “I didn’t know how to swing the right way when I was first starting, but I ended up winning the roping and a couple dollars.”
Since his first appearance in the rodeo world, Rio has come a long way with his roping skills. He has gathered many titles including winning the WTRC Team Roping Finals Truck Championship in 2018, winning the all-around saddle at the South Dakota Timed Event Championship in 2018, and earning back-to-back state championships in team roping at the South Dakota High School Rodeo Association (SDHSRA) State Finals in 2019 and 2020 with his partner Bodie Mattson.
Although the accomplishments that he’s most proud of are mostly in team roping, Rio claims that his favorite event is actually the tie-down roping. “It’s one of the most individual events in rodeo and you’ve got to be as equally prepared for both yourself and your horse,” he said. Rio also enjoys the event because “it takes the most work to get good at.”
While in the practice pen, Rio tries to split up his events throughout the week to help him concentrate on what needs worked on in each one. “I’ll try to spend one night focusing on roping calves, the next night team roping, and the next night bulldogging so I can get the most out of that event in that one night,” he ellaborated. Although he tries to work on one event per night, he still finds himself tying and roping the dummy almost every night. At each practice coaching him is his dad, Tim Nutter. “My dad is my biggest inspiration and I aspire to be like him,” Rio explains. “He’s helped me with everything and him and my mom, Sherrie, have always been there to support me.”
To the rodeos, Rio brings three horses: one for each event. “Gunner is my bay calf horse. I’ve had him since I was a 7th grader. Arnie is my buckskin bulldogging horse and little Johnny is my little chestnut heel horse,” Rio says.
When Rio isn’t practicing his events or on the rodeo trail, he enjoys playing basketball. Rio played as a guard for the Rapid City Cobblers where the team finished their past season with an 11-8 record, falling five points short of qualifying for the state basketball tournament. Rio was a starter and a key player to the Cobblers who often played for the majority of the games. He still enjoys playing pickup games with friends whenever he gets a chance.
At the SDHSRA State Finals in Fort Pierre, S.D., on June 17-19, Rio accomplished his goal to earn a state championship for the third year in a row. Rio and his team roping partner, Tegan Fite, won the saddles after three rounds of competition. Rio’s past saddles were earned from the heading side, but this year he earned his win by heeling.
During his time as a member of the SDHSRA, Rio’s favorite part of the rodeos was getting a chance to meet up with friends he didn’t get to see during the off season. “It was fun being able to compete against each other weekend after weekend, getting better, and trying to enhance your skills for the next level.”
Rio plans to attend the University of Wyoming in Laramie to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business communications that he can use to work for a company that promotes rodeo. While at the University of Wyoming, Rio plans to continue his rodeo career with the Cowboys under head coach Beau Clark.