Idaho’s Zoie Bedke entered the College National Finals Rodeo as a freshman attending Idaho State University. She roped four calves in 10.3 seconds to secure the CNFR Breakaway Roping Title.
Kelly Lynch: Can you tell me a little about yourself like where you’re from, where you go to school, things like that?
Zoie Bedke: I’m from Oakley, Idaho. It’s not a big town at all. Most people don’t know where it is. My family owns a ranch, so I grew up working on a ranch. I’ve always been by animals and horses and around rodeo. I decided to go to Idaho State University for school and I’m glad I did because I really like it there, and I like the coach and the team.
KL: What would you say made you choose to go to Idaho State?
ZB: I originally was not going to Idaho State. It was like my second option and I had some major health problems last year and so my doctor – I was originally going to go to South Plains in Texas – but my doctors advised me to stay close to home so I could be near them and my family incase anything happened.
KL: I know you talked a little bit that you grew up around roping and your whole family and animals and stuff like that, but what got you first into roping? What age were you when you first got started?
ZB: I don’t know what age—I was really young. My parents both like rodeoed and roped. I was always in the arena either watching them rope or just riding my horse around. I probably started roping like when I was, I don’t know, 8 or 9, and then I just grew to love it from there.
KL: You competed in high school rodeos first before graduating and going to college correct?
ZB: Yes, I rodeoed and then I didn’t rodeo my senior year just because of my health problems, but yes.
KL: How did you prepare for the CNFR once you found out that you qualified in the breakaway roping?
ZB: I kind of just stuck to the same stuff I’ve been doing all year. I would run like 4 or 5 calves on my good horse that I rode there just to preserve him. I did a lot of throwing my rope really fast and then I did other things like tracking up behind and taking a couple swings. I just kind of stuck to my same routine, made sure my horse was scoring and leaving flat.
KL: What would you say was the most challenging part about competing when you were there?
ZB: Well we got there, and they let us rope through the calves Friday morning, which was really nice. I got there and I was just watching all the other girls rope and I saw how good they were roping, and I kind of got nervous and when I was practicing on the calves. I did not rope the best, but I knew that I just had to push that behind me and prepare for the first round and go in there with no fear.
KL: How would you say it felt being a freshman and being able to take home that National Breakaway Roping Title?
ZB: It was really cool, I thought. I went in there with expectations of my own, but I didn’t go in there with very high expectations, because I was like “Well, I’m a freshman. There’s other girls that have been there before. They know the situation.” But, I came in there with high expectations for myself, but I knew like if I didn’t end up coming out on top it was alright because I had four more years to go try it again. It was definitely exciting once I got my first one down and then I was just like excited, I’m like, “I feel like I actually have a bigger chance.”
KL: What were some of your personal goals that you had going in?
ZB: I really wanted to just focus a lot on my scoring. I struggled in just our regional rodeos with my scoring, so I knew that if I watched the score and I scored good that I would have a good chance of getting out there and roping the calf quick.
KL: In all four rounds, you had times of 3 seconds or faster. Talk about how tough the competition was and the caliber of girls roping at the Finals.
ZB: It was a really tough finals I felt like. You had the girls that would come out there and in the first round I think a 1.9 won it. Then in the third round a 1.6 won it, so there was definitely a lot of good competition and the calves were phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of calves. I thought that they were all pretty even. It’s just fun to rope calves that you know that you can be fast on and win something on.
KL: How do you find that you handle the pressure in a situation like the finals when there’s so much on the line?
[Zoie Bedke] I personally just like have to tell myself to breath. I know it kind of sounds stupid. I take a deep breath like as the girl in front of me is going, and then I ride in the box and I take another big deep breath and then right before I nod, I take another deep breath. I just feel like that helps calm everything and makes me think better.
Learn more on the benefits of breathing: The Breakaway Roper’s Last Breath
KL: Tell me a little bit about the horse that you rode at the Finals. Was it just one horse or were there a couple you were switching between?
ZB: I just rode my one horse. He’s a good, solid horse. He’s honestly amazing and I would not have been able to accomplish what I did without him. He’s 11 years old and I started roping on him probably 3 years ago. My brother calf roped on him and trained him. He was almost too small to be a calf horse, so I started breakawaying on him and we kind of just clicked. He helps my roping out a lot. I kind of just took him from my brother and haven’t given him back.
KL: What is next for you after winning the CNFR in breakaway roping? Will you hit any of the Pro Rodeos, or what’s your plan?
ZB: Yes, I’m planning on hitting as much Pro Rodeos around our circuit as possible. I left the College Finals and drove straight to Reno and roped there and I’m planning on hitting a bunch more and just trying to rope at ‘em at much as I can.
KL: I think that is a good plan to have. My last question for you is, as breakaway roping quickly gains popularity, from your perspective, where do you see the sport going in the coming years?
ZB I hope it keeps growing like it is. It’s honestly grown so much just over this past year having the Wrangler Finals but, not really in the Finals. I hope to see it in the actual NFR and letting everybody compete at like the same time as everybody else because I think it’s a cool event and it’s just fun to watch and fun to do.