Faith Fliehs has been barrel racing since she was in the ‘Pee Wee’ division. And now, she is competing at the senior level.
It’s something she’s been doing since she can remember, competing when she was as young as 4 or 5 years old, she said.
“I’ve always been riding, always been doing something with horses, so it was just kind of natural, I guess,” Fliehs said.
Fliehs, who will enter her junior year at Groton High School was just one of a number of contestants at the 4-H Hub Area Rodeo at the Akkerman Arena at the Brown County Fairgrounds over the weekend.
There were a number of events including bull riding, saddle bronco riding, bareback bronco riding, steer riding, bareback riding, pole bending, flag races, goat tying and women’s roping. More than 130 competitors were expected in more than 700 performances.
Contestants from across the state attended for a chance to punch their tickets to the state tournament with a top-four finish.
It was Fliehs’ second rodeo of the season, and she’s already qualified for breakaway roping in the state competition, which will be held in Fort Pierre. Regional rodeos will be held up until July 24, with the Central SD 4-H Rodeo scheduled for Aug. 6-7, with the state finals scheduled for Aug. 19-21.
She also participates in team roping and barrel racing. She placed fifth at a rodeo earlier this season in barrel racing, missing the qualifying spot.
At her family’s farm, there is an area for Fliehs to practice her riding skills.
“Rodeo, I mean, this is kind of the lifestyle and you gotta be doing it all the time to be good at it,” Fliehs said. “... It’s nice, you can kind of stay home. Take your breaks if you want to, kind of go your own pace instead of going someplace and then being rushed.”
Fliehs said her favorite event has become team roping, an event she started roughly two years ago. In the event, there is a header that ropes the front of the steer, while the heeler ropes the back legs.
“Both me and my team partner (are) kind of new to it, so we’re both learning as we go,” Fliehs said.
Fliehs is part of the Lazy Farmers Club in Groton, which is just one of a number of area 4-H chapters. She’s been active in a number of 4-H events, including cat showing, which she started when she was roughly eight or nine years old.
“I always had a nice, little tame cat that I would take with, but the bad thing is I’m allergic to cats, so I’d always struggle with that. But I couldn’t stop showing cats, I mean it was just an enjoyment of mine,” Fliehs said.
Fliehs has recently stopped the event, to focus on both rodeo and showing sheep. She showed cats for around seven years, she said.
“My mom and I’ve kind of been in the barrel racing business for a long time … We signed up for 4-H horse and we started doing 4-H rodeos and it just kept going from there,” Fliehs said.
Fliehs also do static exhibits, entering in different events including baking, sewing and welding projects.
“You get to set them our where your club sets our all the things, so yeah, then it’s kind of neat because you get to display the things that you made,” Fliehs said.
This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: Groton High's Faith Fliehs continues success at 4H Hub Area Rodeo