Ridin', ropin' and rebounding

Loni Tostenrude is used to the looks, the giggles and the barrage of teasing that sometimes comes her way. But she’s also used to winning and she does a lot of that, on two different playing fields.

In a school that boasts plenty of two-sport athletes, Tostenrude is one of the more unique, taking charge of the hardwood during the week as a member of the Wolves basketball team while running down goats and calves on weekends as a member of the Washington State High School Rodeo Association.

And while the latter activity may bring the occasional joke, everyone takes the 5'-9" senior’s work ethic very seriously.

“They think its funny,” Tostenrude said of teammates and coaches, especially girls head coach Mike Allen. “They think the goat tying is funny. They don’t understand it, so I think it’s hard for anybody that doesn’t understand it."

“It’s not as well known as basketball,” Tostenrude said. “It’s so much harder for me than basketball.”

Both have been a challenge the last two years as Tostenrude suffered a pair of knee injuries just 366 days apart. She tore her left ACL on Sept. 11, 2001 while competing in a goat-tying event. Then tore her right MCL just a year later.

But a good attitude and a lot of hard work put Tostenrude back on the court and back in the saddle.

“It was the longest year of my entire life,” Tostenrude said. “But I got to play four months after my surgery and that was such a huge deal for me.”

Now healthy, she is once again the leader of the Wolves basketball team while taking a winter break from the high school rodeo circuit.

Averaging 12.3 points and 11.7 rebounds a game, Tostenrude has helped SK to a 4-3 overall mark and a 1-1 record in Narrows League Bridge Division play.

“Those numbers are down a little bit because she’s struggled so much from the free-throw line,” Allen said. “If she was hitting her free throws at about 70 percent, she’d be leading the league in scoring. She’d be at 18, 19 points a game, about where she’s going to get to anyway.”

Allen, who admits to some of the goat-related teasing, said Tostenrude’s physical and aggressive play has rubbed off on her teammates, which he likes.

“She’s always played that way,” Allen said. “Fear is not a word that she knows. And that translates to everyone else on the team.”

The Wolves return to action tonight at Gig Harbor, hoping to begin a run that leads to a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.

And while Tostenrude enjoys basketball, she sees her future in the arenas filled with dirt and animals.

“I was always into horses and my step dad used to pro rodeo and he kind of got me into roping and riding,” Tostenrude said. “That’s what I do now and it’s a huge part of my life.

“And that’s the direction, I don’t know, that I will probably go with my life,” Tostenrude said. “We’ll see what happens with both, because I like them both. If I could do both, that’s be great.”

Tostenrude is coming of a fall season that saw her compete in eight WSHSRA rodeos and a few amateur events as well. She plans on taking part in 22 more rodeos in the spring and summer.

And heading into the spring schedule, Tostenrude is in second place in the all-around competition with 130 points. Shelly Combs leads the all-around with 178.5 points.

“I really need to pick it up this spring,” Tostenrude said.

The girls all-around combines points earned in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping.

Tostenrude said breakaway and team roping are her favorites and that shows as she has scored 50 points in breakaway and 32 in team roping. She has 22 in goat tying, and 20 more in barrel racing.

Tostenrude will return to the WSHSRA rodeo circuit in April with events in Omak and Ellensburg. The finals rodeo will be held in late May in Ellensburg.

For now, Tostenrude said she is keeping her options open, hoping to land a scholarship in either basketball or rodeo or both. Basketball would most likely keep her close to home while the rodeo would take her south.

Tostenrude said she has looked at Western Texas Junior College in Snyder, Texas among other Texas colleges. Most of the junior college in Texas have nationally ranked rodeo teams, including Odessa College which produced former world champions Ty Murray and Jim Sharp.

“It depends, it depends on what I get,” Tostenrude said. “If I got a full ride there, to Texas A&M, that’s where I’d go.”

Until then, she knows the jokes will continue but so will her winning ways.

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