Dixie State University student competes at College National Finals Rodeo

In his first-ever appearance at the College National Finals Rodeo, DSU student Sebastian Hotalen placed 29th for bareback bronco riding last week in Casper, Wyoming.

The national competition included all qualifying rodeo competitors from the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. There are 11 regions included in the rodeo association. After placing 2nd in the Rocky Mountain region, Hotalen became the first member of the Dixie State Rodeo Club to qualify for nationals in four years.

“I like the adrenaline rush, and the environment of rodeo. It’s an awesome feeling to really battle with the horses and just be around the industry,” Hotalen said. “It takes a lot of hard work, determination and confidence. You’ve got to work hard and try to better yourself each time.”

Born and raised in Bozeman, Montana, Hotalen said he’s been participating in rodeos since the eighth grade. “I got into it starting with bull riding,” he said. “But then I fell in love with bareback riding.” Hotalen is a four-time Montana High School State rodeo qualifier and was the Montana High School Bareback champion in 2018. He is also a three-time High School National Finals qualifier and placed in the top ten at Nationals in 2019.

“At DSU’s club rush he found the rodeo team and was ecstatic that we had a team,” said Dixie State Rodeo Club Assistant Coach Camille Salisbury. “He’s a gritty kid. He placed in the Rocky Mountain region but we don’t have practice stock for bucking horses. This year was all on his merit.” Salisbury also said Hotalen participates in amateur rodeos to get practice. “The night before he checked into nationals, he went to the Cody Wyoming rodeo, an amateur rodeo, and won.”

Currently a sophomore at Dixie State University, Hotalen is majoring in business. Salisbury said he gets good grades because he prioritizes his education. “He says school is first and rodeo is second. He always says ‘I’m here for school.’”

Salisbury and her husband Guy have been leading the Rodeo Club for four years now. She said they would love to be able to offer students scholarships to attend Dixie and be part of the team. “We’ve got to be able to give these kids scholarships. We need to be able to offer them something in order to get them here.”

Currently, the Salisburys volunteer their time to keep the club running. “We do it because we love the kids and the sport.”

As for Hotalen, he said he’s just excited to keep riding the bareback broncos. “It’s never a bad day when getting on bucking horses,” said Hotalen. “I came into my freshmen year at Dixie with staples in my head from getting kicked at a recent rodeo, but it was still an awesome rodeo!”

To learn more about Dixie State University, visit dixie.edu or, for more information about DSU’s  Rodeo Club, visit facebook.com/Dixiestaterodeo. To support the club, text DSURODEO to the number 91999.