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J.J. Elshere earns saddle bronc berth at National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas

While competing to be the World’s top saddle bronc rider, J.J. Elshere will be cheered on by wife Lindsay, two-year-old Thayne, and four-year-old Talon.

Successfully riding saddle broncs in rodeos across the nation, and not only in the Badlands Circuit Rodeo region, has placed J.J. Elshere in the top 15 money winners in the event. He will be competing in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, NV, from Thursday, November 30, through Saturday, December 9.

"I've been doing rodeo pretty much my whole life," said Elshere, who was a 1998 graduate from Philip High School and now lives near Quinn. "I started out in sixth or seventh grade in 4-H rodeo. My older brother, Ryan, got into riding the pros. That's how I got started professionally. If you like something, you might as well go a step higher.

"If you draw right and ride right, yeah, I guess you could make money at it. I wouldn't do it if I wasn't enjoying it. It's fun, pretty much. There are days better than others; if you draw a bad horse or get banged up. But there are better days," said Elshere.

Elshere's wife, Lindsay, supports J.J. "But her heart is for me to not be gone so much. She likes rodeo, and me in it, I guess."

Elshere's sons - four-year-old Talon and two-year-old Thayne - "think its pretty cool. They sure like watching. Talon is getting into sheep riding when the rodeos have it."

Another South Dakota cowboy also qualified for the NFR, also in saddle bronc riding - Chad Ferley from Olrichs. "There will be a lot of good guys there," said Elshere. "It'll be a match, I guess."

Injuries seem to be part of rodeo, and Elshere addresses the idea with a cowboy's nonchalance. "I'm doing alright. I did break my pelvis once, but that's about it."

Elshere's immediate family, his parents, his older sister, and his two older brothers will be in Las Vegas cheering him on.

For Elshere, the year-long pro rodeo regular season ended with the Badlands Circuit Rodeo at the Seven Down Arena near Deadwood over the November 3-5 weekend.

At this Seven Down rodeo, the event winners of the average of the best out of three horses, plus the season champions in each Badlands Circuit event, qualify for the National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho, next March. In bronc riding, Dusty Hausauer of Dickinson, N.D., scored the high mark with an 87. Billy Sutton of Burke and Elshere split first place in the circuit's season average, but, Sutton will go to Pocatello with Hausauer because the tie-breaker was not in Elshere's favor.

Elshere, though, did so well in out-of-district rodeos that he has earned a place at the NFR in Vegas. Only the top 15 national money-winning cowboys or cowgirls in each rodeo event make it to the national competition.

A public NFR send-off gathering for Elshere is planned at the 73 Bar in Philip on November 17.