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Tava Sexton, rodeo queen and national qualifier

Nate Wek
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Tava Sexton, a junior from Whitewood, had an eventful week at the state finals rodeo in Ft. Pierre. Not only was she named the Queen for 2024, but she also qualified for nationals in girl’s cutting.

Along with being humbled by the queen award, she said none of it would be possible without the support of her family.

“My grandma is actually the one who got me into the Queen contest since I was a little girl,” said Sexton. “She has all the clothes and everything. My mom and all her sisters high school rodeoed, and so did my dad, and they just do everything to support me.”

Sexton also has five siblings, who are also involved in rodeo.

Along with being named the queen, Tava also finished fourth in the standings for girl’s cutting. In each event, the top-4 finishers go to nationals, which means she’ll be one of the athletes representing South Dakota next month in Wyoming at the National High School Finals Rodeo.

“I was very excited to be able to represent in cutting. I just really enjoy the event. I know a lot of queens don’t have that experience in the arena, and I’m just glad to share that,” exclaimed Sexton. “Mostly the queen's duty is to spread information to people who don’t really know about rodeo, or know what it’s like, and bring them in and make them part of the rodeo family.”

Tava is involved in a lot of rodeo events. She has been since she was young.

“I’m actually in every event that I could possibly be in. I’m in barrels, pole bending, breakaway, goat tying, team roping, cutting, and reined cow horse,” she explained. “I just started cutting and reined cow horse my freshman year of high school. All the other events I’ve done since I was pretty little and 4H rodeo.”

While she’s been to nationals as a freshman and sophomore in cutting as well, Tava is excited about the opportunity to once again go back.

“Just getting to spend time in the arena with my horses, meeting new people,” Sexton said. “It’s really fun to see other people compete too and see them do well.”

And as far as the queen honor, she’s excited to take on that role over the next year as well.

“It means a lot,” Sexton stated. “I just really love to represent, especially South Dakota high school rodeo, and encourage other girls to maybe step up one day and be the queen themselves.”

The National High School Finals Rodeo event will take place at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyoming on July 14-20. Click here for list of all the South Dakota qualifiers.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.