SD Roper Hopes To Earn First Ticket To NFR, Has To Get Through Sioux Falls First

AURORA, S.D.– A South Dakota boy will have his name called at the Sioux Falls PREMIER Rodeo this weekend. The 19-year-old from the small town of Aurora will participate as a header in the team roping event.

“It’s real cool to get in this rodeo right here by my house,” said Jr. Dees of Aurora.

Just east of Brookings is where Dees calls home. Here, he practices every day, roping and riding.

“I try to ride these horses every day if I get a chance, but, I mean, I just try to practice and get to where I can make the same run over and over, is my goal,” said Dees.

… practicing for the biggest event of his career. If Dees does well at the Sioux Falls PREMIER Rodeo, he could find himself in the Superbowl of his sport; the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas later this year. The event would mark his first appearance in the NFR.

Dees said, “I won the U.S. Finals last year and it pulled me out of a bind. It helped me buy a rig and horses, and this year, I didn’t hardly have enough money to get to Salt Lake City, and I got there, and I won that one. It just, I’ve had a lot of luck go my way.”

And nearly every step of the way, Matt Zancanella has been by his side. Zancanella took him into his home when Dees was just seven years old.

Zancanella said, “I barely could take of myself so it was a big deal for me and my family.”

Zancanella helped raise Junior and taught him how to rope.

Dees said, “He’s the only reason that I am anywhere that I am.”

Zancanella was also his roping partner for the first half of the year. Unfortunately, he didn’t qualify and won’t be able to ride with Dees into the Premier Center.

“Just hope he has some luck and gets to show the hometown crowd that he’s the real deal,” said Zancanella.

Instead, Zancanella will be on his feet cheering on Dees proudly, knowing with his help he has a bright future ahead.

Dees said, “I want to do it my whole life. I want to do it, I want to get where I’m good at it, so I can do it every year,” said Dees.

The rodeo at the PREMIER Center takes place this Friday and Saturday. It will be televised nationwide with around 61 million viewers.

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