LINCOLN, Neb. (April 17, 2017) - A competitive
streak runs through Tori Huffman’s veins.
The 18-year-old, a resident of Burwell, Neb., and a
member of the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association,
loves to compete.
And it shows. He was part of the Burwell High School
football team that won this year’s Class D-1 title, and he
was the state champion wrestler in the 182-pound division.
He excels in everything he does. As a linebacker and
running back for Burwell’s eight-man football team, he
was an all-state running back, setting a new Burwell High
School record with 2,272 yards of rushing in 2016. His
stats include 32 offensive touchdowns, one defensive
touchdown, and more than 100 tackles.
Huffman has wrestled at the 182-pound class for the
past three years, finishing his junior year 40-6 and wining
third at state. This year, as a senior, he was undefeated,
won state, and helped Burwell win the team title as well.
It isn’t easy to do two sports at once, but Huffman did
in the fall, combining football and rodeo. There were four
football games that happened on Friday nights and were
followed by a Saturday rodeo, and for home games with
rodeos farther away, his parents would have his horses
loaded in the trailer, parked at the football field, ready to
take off as soon as Huffman was done playing ball.
He was a little sore on Saturday mornings following
"It wasn’t fun waking up the next morning and getting
on a horse," he said. In high school rodeo, he competes
in the team roping, heeling for Nathan Poss, and in the
tie-down roping. Last year, he competed in the steer
And practice for two sports in the fall wasn’t simple,
either. Huffman would be at football practice until 6 p.m.,
then come home, load horses and take them to an arena 20
miles away, since the family lives in town.
Huffman excels in the classroom. He is on his school’s
A-B honor roll and received academic scholarships to
attend Chadron State College, where he will study ranch
management or range management. He has been in the top
10 in the FFA state range judging competition each of the
last three years, and was a member of the Burwell High
School team that won the state range judging in 2015.
Of his three sports, Huffman can’t pick a favorite. He
loves the team aspect of football, but in wrestling "really
likes to beat up on people," he said. "I’d have to say
wrestling is one of my favorites." But he likes rodeo,
too. "I love the connections I make with people, and the
friendships I make, and being able to make a connection
with the horses."
He’s a true competitor, says his high school football
and wrestling coach Luke Gideon. "He’s somebody you
want on your team. He’s just really confident and he
works really hard at being good at the little things, and
that has been a huge part of why we’ve had success here."
Huffman realizes it’s not all about him, too. "He’s a great
team player. He’s not in it just for himself," Gideon said.
Gideon likens his laid-back personality to a light switch.
"He’s real humble about things, but he has a switch he
flips when it comes time to compete. He is kind of fiery
when it comes down to it."
Huffman has chosen to play football at Chadron State
this fall, forgoing wrestling and rodeo.
He will compete at his fourth state high school finals
rodeo in Hastings in June in both of his events. He
finished 10th in the state last year in the team roping.
The Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo will be in
Hastings at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds June 15-17.
Tickets are $7 for everyone ages 5 and up and are available
through the office and at the gate. For more information,
com, or call 402-462-3247.
Excellence on the field, the wrestling mat,
and in the arena
Burwell cowboy part of football, wrestling championships, and rodeo
Tori Huffman reaches for a steer at a Nebraska High School Rodeo in 2016.
The Burwell, Neb. cowboy excels in football, wrestling, and rodeo, and has a
competitive streak. Photo by Jill Saults.