ALVA, Okla. – College rodeo is quite a bit different than a typical rodeo. Contestants not only battle for individual titles, they also strive to finish atop the tournament as a team.
Think wrestling instead of football or basketball, where individual success leads to team victory. Each cowboy and cowgirl battles for personal honor and, in the process, accumulates points that count toward the team standings.
When it is all added together, the outcome is a big victory. Such is the case with the Northwestern Oklahoma State University men’s rodeo team, which won the Garden City (Kan.) Community College rodeo last weekend. Eleven Rangers qualified for the all-important championship round, and two cowboys left western Kansas with coveted titles – tie-down roper Travis Cowan and all-around champion Jess Woodward.
“I’m just glad I was able to get points to help win the team trophy,” said Woodward, a junior agriculture business major from Dupree, S.D. “I think it will help us a lot in confidence. We’ve got four rodeos left, and it should help us get the points to be in the top two at the end of the season and qualify for the college finals as a team.”
The 575 points earned the Northwestern men their first team title of the season, 150 points ahead of runner-up Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Woodward earned 175 points: 60 for placing fifth in tie-down roping and 115 for placing second in steer wrestling. Cowan, of Highmore, S.D., earned 120 points for finishing in a tie for first.
The Rangers also earned points by having several others in the short go-round: tie-down roper Trey Young, fifth; steer wrestlers Clayton Kolb, fifth, and Jared Thompson, eighth; and team ropers Collin and Ryan Domer, second, Ethen McDowell and Chase Johnson, fourth, and heeler Dustin Searcy, who placed fifth with Trey Harmon of Western Oklahoma State College.
“I drew really good and didn’t mess them up in the long round,” said Woodward, who also competes in team roping. “I didn’t draw as good in the short round but did what we could do.
“We had a good set of cattle, and nobody on our team really made any mistakes.”
The team title moves the Northwestern men to sixth in the Central Plains Region standings heading into the final run of rodeos for the 2012-13 season; the teams will compete at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College beginning Friday, March 8. The women’s team is second in the region. Breakaway roper Jessica Kippitz was the highest placing ranger in Garden City, placing second.
She was joined in in the final round by breakaway roper Jessica Miller, seventh; goat-tier Kodi Hansen, third; and barrel racer Clara Morris.
“We’re just trying to make the college finals, not only as a team, but as an individual as well,” Woodward said.