ALVA, Okla. – In her relatively young lifetime, Alexis Allen has seen great success.
Last year, her freshman season on the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team, the Alva cowgirl experienced a bit of failure. It was demoralizing. It was frustrating.
It was motivation.
“I just want to make it to the college finals,” said Allen, who won the women’s all-around championship last weekend at the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University rodeo, placing second in barrel racing and fourth in breakaway roping. “I barely missed going last year. I made all three years of the National Junior High Finals and all four years of the National High School Finals, but I had to sit out last year.
“I didn’t like it.”
Allen has accumulated 498 points in barrel racing this season and sits second in the Central Plains Region standings, just 52 points behind Ceri McCaffery of Southwestern Oklahoma State University. While the top three in the final region standings, there are a couple of cowgirls on that tandem’s heels: Southwestern’s Emily Rose, third with 485 points, and Tanya Steinhoff of Pratt (Kan.) Community College, 470.
Now they’ll race to the finish at the final rodeo of the 10-event season from Thursday-Saturday at the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo in Guymon, Okla.
“Hopefully I can be consistent in this last rodeo,” said Allen, who finished second at Panhandle State last spring, runner-up to McCaffery.
While the overall goal is to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo – set for June 9-15 in Casper, Wyo. – Allen is well within reach of winning the region’s barrel racing championship. She’ll settle for a strong finish and a return to a national championship event, but Allen knows her finish in Hays set her up for grand opportunities.
“It’s exciting to win the all-around in Hays,” she said. “I barely missed out on a buckle last weekend. Winning one this weekend helps a lot.
“It would’ve been nice to catch my calf in the short-go and win the breakaway roping, but I’m in a good position in barrel racing, so it’s OK.”
Allen rode Superman, an 8-year-old bay gelding, twice around the cloverleaf pattern for a cumulative time of 33.24 seconds, just behind Southwestern’s Dusta Kimzey. For her two-event finish, Allen finished with 205 points, which moved the Northwestern into a third-place team finish in Hays. The Rangers women remain No. 2 in the region standings – only the top two schools qualify their teams to the college finals.
“We’ve really hooked it up this semester,” Allen said. “Hopefully we can pull it off and win in Guymon this weekend. We’ve always been in the shadows of the men’s team, so this is an important step for us.
“For some reason, everybody’s just picking up their game and being consistent.”
Allen was one of several Rangers who placed in Hays, joining Trisha Price of Faith, S.D., who placed second in goat tying; barrel racers Liza Ingram of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (sixth) and Kelsey Pontius of Watertown, Pa. (tied for seventh); heelers Wade Wilson of Laverne, Okla. (fourth), Wade Perry of Lamont, Okla. (fifth) and Chase Boekhaus of Rolla, Kan. (sixth); headers Karly Kile of Topeka, Kan. (third) and Bradley Bullock of McAlpin, Fla. (sixth); and tie-down ropers Ryan Domer of Topeka (second), Travis Cowan of Highmore, S.D. (sixth) and Chase Lako of Hunter, N.D. (tied for seventh).
There are several Northwestern contestants who are still in the running to qualify for the college finals, but they’ll need all the help they can get beginning Thursday. It’s further proof the Central Plains is one of the most competitive in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
“I think competing in our region helps us when we get to the college finals,” Allen said. “There are a bunch of girls here that are extremely tough. We’ve been able to compete with Southwestern this year; if we can compete with Southwestern, then we can hold our own in Casper.”