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postheadericon Tuf Cooper leads Guymon steer roping

Tuf Cooper

Tuf Cooper

Steer roping results
Third round: 1. Ralph Williams, 13.9 seconds, $1,840; 2. Jess Tierney, 15.6, $1,523; 3. Tyrel Taton, 17.4, $1,206; 4. Leo Campbell, 17.5, $888; 5. Marty Jones, 18.2, $571; 6. Slick Ellis, 18.8, $317.

Fourth round: 1. Trevor Brazile, 11.7 seconds, $1,840; 2. Brad Starks, 14.4, $1,523; 3. Will Gasperson, 15.7, $1,206; 4. Chris Glover, 16.6, $888; 5. Fred Brown, 16.8, $571; 6. (tie) Trey Wallace and Chance Kelton, 16.9, $159 each.

Average leaders: 1. Tuf Cooper, 90.3 seconds on four head; 2. JoJo LeMond, 93.2; 3. Vin Fisher Jr., 110.2; 4. Brodie Poppino, 52.7 on three head; 5. Scott Snedecor, 54.5; 6. Chance Kelton, 57.4.

postheadericon Poppino leads Guymon after Day 1

Brodie Poppino

Brodie Poppino

Steer roping results
First round: 1. Rocky Patterson, 14.9 seconds, $1,840; 2. Brodie Poppino, 16.0, $1,523; 3. Dari Suit, 17.5, $1,206; 4. Mike Chase, 17.8, $888; 5. (tie) Blake Deckard, Ora Taton and Jason Evans, 18.0, $296 each.

Second round: 1. Scott Snedecor, 13.9 seconds, $1,840; 2. Shay Good, 16.0, $1,523; 3. Jason Evans, 17.0, $1,206; 4. Brian Garr, 17.8, $888; 5. (tie) Jay Sellers and Brodie Poppino, 18.4, $444 each.

Aggregate leaders: 1. Brodie Poppino, 34.4; 2. Jason Evans, 35.0; 3. Blake Deckard, 36.7; 4. Chance Kelton, 40.5; 5. Rocky Patterson, 42.6; 6. Cody Lee, 43.2.

postheadericon Barnes closes career with win

ALVA, Okla. – Lauren Barnes had secured another qualification to the College National Finals Rodeo in goat tying.

She wanted something more, though. She wanted to win an event championship in her senior season at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She did so at her last regular-season rodeo of a strong career, winning the goat-tying championship this past weekend at Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo in Guymon, Okla.

Northwestern-Logo-200“It felt really great to end on a high note and get that title at my last rodeo,” said Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz. “At first, my goal was to make the college finals. Once I realized I had a chance to win the (regional) all-around, that was my goal. I fell just a little bit short.”

A three-event cowgirl, Barnes returns to the college championship, set for June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo. She’s part of the Central Plains Region-winning Northwestern women’s team, which won half the rodeos in the 2014-15 season.

“I don’t know what it is about our girls team, but we are so close,” she said. “I feel like we’ve got a really strong women’s team. It feels great to have other girls there that are working just as hard as you and excited to do well.”

Barnes finished second in the region to teammate Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D. The two Rangers were runaways in the goat-tying points race. In Guymon, Barnes posted an 8.7-second run to finish second in the opening round, then followed that with a final round-winning 8.2. Her two-run cumulative time of 16.9 seconds was almost a full second faster than the field.

“I got my education because of goat tying and rodeo,” said Barnes, an elementary education major. “It helps me prepare for the rest of my life, and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing. I’ve got one more chance at (college rodeo), then go live the rest of my life in the real world.”

Barnes was one of two Northwestern goat-tiers to place in the Oklahoma Panhandle; she ws joined by Tearnee Nelson of Faith, S.D., who placed fifth. Breakaway roper Samantha McGuire of Backus, Minn., placed fifth with a two-run cumulative time of 6.9 seconds, while barrel racers Cassy Woodward of Faith, S.D., and Elli Price of Leady, Okla., qualified for the short round.

Freshman steer wrestler Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, needed something big to occur in Guymon if he were to qualify for the college finals. It did.

Allred won the first round with a 6.0-second run, then got through a tough steer in the final round in 10.2 to hold on to the second-place spot in the average. The 150 points he earned, though, pushed him to third place in the region standings, earning him a trip to Casper – he beat teammate Laine Herl of Goodland, Kan., by just five points.

In the short round, “I drew a steer that ran a little bit, so I had to stand him back up and throw him down again,” Allred said. “I knew I had to go after them and do something big, or I wasn’t going to make it.”

Three other bulldoggers made the final round: Herl, who finished third; Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, British Columbia, who placed fourth; and Mike McGinn of Haines, Ore. They were joined by tie-down roper Harper Maverick of Stephenville, Texas, who finished fifth in the opening round. At the college finals, Allred will be joined by team roping-header Dalton Richards of Hawkinsville, Ga., who finished second in the region.

The Rangers men have a strong team competing in one of the most competitive regions in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. That’s especially true in steer wrestling, where seven Northwestern cowboys finished among the top 15.

“Every day you go to practice, people are going to push you and make you better,” Allred said.

postheadericon Muncy is New Mexico proud

Two-time world champion Taos Muncy rides Pete Carr's Gold Coast during the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The New Mexico cowboy is a vital part of the Tate Branch Auto Group "Riding for the Brand" team and carries his strong New Mexico ties with him around the rodeo circuit. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY MIKE COPEMAN)

Two-time world champion Taos Muncy rides Pete Carr’s Gold Coast during the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The New Mexico cowboy is a vital part of the Tate Branch Auto Group “Riding for the Brand” team and carries his strong New Mexico ties with him around the rodeo circuit. (PRCA PRORODEO PHOTO BY MIKE COPEMAN)

For Taos Muncy, the comforts of his New Mexico home are hard to pass up.

Born, raised and still residing near Corona southeast of Albuquerque, Muncy is a ProRodeo cowboy who makes his living on the rodeo trail.

He’s a two-time world champion saddle bronc rider who has qualified seven times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo over the last eight years – the only year he missed the finale in Las Vegas was because of an injury in 2008. Traveling the country in search of rodeo gold is his dream job, but being on the family ranch for an extended time is, too.

“Time goes too fast, so you’ve got to enjoy your family as much as possible,” said Muncy, who lives on the ranch with his wife, Marissa, and their daughter, Marley, 3, not far from his parents, Blaine and Johnnie. “My family’s pretty tight. That’s the one good thing about rodeoing; I might be gone for 10 days tops, but when I’m home, I’m with them.

“In rodeo, we’re all one big family. It’s a great lifestyle.”

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

Muncy also is part of another team, “Riding for the Brand” of Tate Branch Auto Group, which has dealerships in Carlsbad, Artesia and Hobbs. It’s a great New Mexico bond, which also includes other ProRodeo greats: eight-time world champion tie-down roper Roy “Super Looper” Cooper and two of his sons, Clif and Clint; team ropers Jake and Jim Ross Cooper; and steer roper Marty Jones – all have ties to New Mexico.

“Tate is a big New Mexico rodeo fan, and that’s really neat,” Muncy said. “It’s an awesome team to be part of.”

He is “Riding for the Brand” proudly. As the No. 4 bronc rider in the world standings, he’s off to a hot start to the 2015 season. His goal, as always, is to win his third world championship. In order to do that, though, he needs to finish the regular season among the top 15 to secure his eighth NFR qualification.

In Las Vegas, though, cowboys and cowgirls will battle for an unprecedented purse, with more than $26,000 paying out to go-round winners all 10 nights.

“The season’s going pretty danged good,” said Muncy, who has earned more than $30,000 so far this season. “I haven’t set the world on fire, but it seems like I’ve been real consistent. I’ve been placing and winning checks. As long as I’m making money, I’m happy.”

Money is vital. In addition to paying bills and covering rodeo expenses, money also equals championship points. The contestants in each event who earn the most money at season’s end are crowned world champions.

“I’m tickled,” he said. “My goal every year is to win the world (title), but if I stay in the top five all year, I’m really happy. I’d like a fighting chance when I get to the finals.”

That’s the benefit of having great sponsorship agreements. In his association with Tate Branch Auto Group, Muncy has more than a relationship with a New Mexico business. He has a true partnership and, like anyone who uses the southeastern New Mexico auto group, can take advantage of all the incentives available.

“Taos is a great champion and a great representative for New Mexico, and we’re excited to have him among our ‘Riding for the Brand’ team,” said Joby Houghtaling, the director of operations of the Tate Branch Auto Group. “He can utilize Warranty Forever, a Tate Branch Auto Group exclusive warranty that covers the drive train of any vehicle purchased at one of our dealerships that has less than 75,000 miles.

“We are happy to be involved in rodeo, and we offer discounts to members of all the rodeo associations, whether they’re in the PRCA, the WPRA, college or whatever. We’re committed to rodeo and the cowboys and cowgirls in the sport.”

That works great for any rodeo contestant, like Muncy. He’s spending time at home taking care of duties on the ranch that must be done. He returns to action Friday, May 1, at his ol’ college stomping grounds in Guymon, Okla. He attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, just 10 miles from the Guymon rodeo arena.

In fact, he claimed the 2007 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding championship while part of the Panhandle State rodeo team. Later that year, he won his first PRCA world championship, becoming just the third cowboy in the history of the game to win a college title and the gold buckle in the same discipline in the same season, joining bull rider Matt Austin and all-around cowboy Ty Murray.

“Guymon is pretty much a hometown rodeo for me, because Corona doesn’t have a ProRodeo and the closest ProRodeo to my hometown is two hours away,” Muncy said. “I still get nervous when I ride there, because I know they’re all watching me … all those great cowboys I looked up to and wanted to be like.”

The Oklahoma Panhandle has a grand history in the game, with 12 world championships earned by cowboys who have ties to the region once known as “No Man’s Land.”

“All those guys helped me quite a bit,” he said. “I could ride broncs, but I wasn’t good enough to do it at this level until I got there and worked with those guys.”

When he’s done with the Guymon rodeo, he’ll return to Corona and handle the tasks around the ranch before committing to the big summer run. Now 27 years old, he understands the importance of taking care of business every time he prepares to ride.

“I don’t do a lot of extra stuff to stay in shape, but I try to stay active,” Muncy said. “I stay plenty active when I’m around the place, because I’m usually running around here pretty good. If there’s stuff on my riding that I need to work on, I’ll dang sure get on my spur board or get on practice horses to keep tuned up.

“When we get to the summer run, especially over the Fourth of July, it helps me a lot when you’re getting on broncs every day. That’s when you feel the best. When you’re riding broncs, you’re using muscles you don’t ever use any other time.”

It all adds up to him living a lifetime of dreams.

“I’ve wanted to be a cowboy as long as I can remember, since I was probably 2 or 3,” he said. “I figured out you could ride animals and get paid. I always thought it would be cool to get on broncs or bulls or calves or sheep. I played football and basketball and other stuff, but all I’ve ever wanted to do was be a cowboy.”

He’s pretty good at it.

Tate Branch-logo

postheadericon Rodeo strives to be one of the best

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – This community is tucked in north Texas is less than an hour’s drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

It’s home to about 6,100 people and one of the fastest growing events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Hundreds of the greatest cowboys and cowgirls make their way to this small Wise County city each May for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

ButterfieldStageDaysRodeo-LOGO“Our rodeo is special because we get more than 450 cowboys and cowgirls from all over the world who attend our rodeo,” said Susan Miller, an eight-year member of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We get world champions and National Finals Rodeo qualifiers that are part of our show, and they come back every single year.”

That’s a tremendous benefit to the Bridgeport community. Contestants, their families and fans will flock to town for the two-day rodeo, eating at local restaurants, staying in hotels and utilizing fuel stops. In addition, it allows for an easy commute for a few elite cowboys and cowgirls.

“It’s good for our local rodeo contestants, too,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the rodeo committee, referring to numerous NFR qualifiers that live in Wise County, including three-time and reigning world champion tie-down roper Tuf Cooper; his father, eight-time titlist Roy Cooper; and Trevor Brazile, the 21-time gold buckle winner.

“Trevor is just 20 minutes from his house. Besides that, we’re getting a lot of the other big-name contestants. It’s fun for the community to see that, too.”

It’s just one ingredient that makes the perfect stew for the local rodeo. There are many, including a work force of volunteers that strive to make each performance the best it can be.

“We work all year long,” Miller said. “I believe the rodeo gets better every year. We are super proud of the rodeo, but we always know there is room for improvement. Each year after the rodeo ends, we have a meeting to discuss what we could do to make it better.

“That is our goal.”

It’s showing. The Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo is a hot commodity, both for contestants and fans. From an amazing competition to a true family friendly entertainment package, there has been plenty of talk about the Bridgeport rodeo.

“I believe it will be the most talked-about, successful PRCA rodeo for our size of community,” Miller said. “I believe that one weekend per year will continue to be scheduled in many date books across the nation.”

postheadericon Franks named Clarendon College coach

CLARENDON, Texas – Bret Franks is a cowboy.

For the past two years, the Guymon, Okla.-born man has served as the Livestock and Equine Center director and ranch horse coach at Clarendon College, a community college in the Donley County seat. Now he’s adding rodeo coach to his list of duties, recently hired to take over the 30-year-old program.

“I feel like the Good Lord led me here,” said Franks, a graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell and a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier in saddle bronc riding. “When the rodeo coaching job came up, it was the perfect fit. It was almost like it was meant to be.”

Bret Franks

Bret Franks

He was raised two and a half hours north in the Oklahoma Panhandle in an agriculture family. He participated in ag-based programs and attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on a livestock judging scholarship. He transferred to Panhandle State on a rodeo scholarship and won the Central Plains Region bronc riding championship while there.

He began a 10-year career in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1993, qualifying for the NFR as one of the top 15 bronc riders in world standings in 1997, ’98 and 2000. He won the Prairie Circuit saddle bronc riding title twice and was the 2002 National Circuit Finals Rodeo champion.

From 1995-99, Franks served as rodeo coach at his alma mater, guiding the men’s team to the national championship in 1997 and 1998. He did that while also juggling a prolific rodeo career.

“I think the biggest thing I can bring to the kids on the rodeo team is my ability to coach the mental aspect of the game,” said Franks, who lives in Clarendon with his wife, Darla, and their sons, Clint and Cole. “With my 20/20 vision of the past, I can look at the mistakes and struggles I had in the sport, and I can help them deter those problems and challenges before they ever get there.

“I can help them mentally prepare to win.”

Though he slowed down his rodeo career considerably after the 2002 season, he always was close to the game. He was the livestock supervisor and rodeo coordinator for Carr Pro Rodeo from 2005-09, then took a job as assistant manager at Cattlemen’s II Feedlot in Hedley, Texas, just a short drive from his Clarendon home. He worked there for four years until the business closed, then began his duties at Clarendon College.

The institution is the first Texas junior college to have a ranch horse team, which promotes the college and agriculture in ranches and stock horse events. As the Livestock and Equine Center director, he is in charge of all events at the facility, including ropings, barrel racing competitions, bull ridings, clinics and practices, just to name a few. Now he’ll add to that list.

“It’s a big undertaking and a huge responsibility, but I’m really looking forward to everything,” he said

Bret Franks has a powerful career of rodeo experiences to use in order to help teach the young rodeo stars at Clarendon College.

postheadericon Guymon rodeo to be inducted into hall

Crowds pack Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena for the annual Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, which will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame this summer.

Crowds pack Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena for the annual Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, which will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame this summer.

GUYMON, Okla. – Oklahoma’s richest rodeo in Guymon has long been considered one of the best by the cowboys and cowgirls who play the game.

The rodeo world has taken notice.

The Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo will be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame during a special ceremony Aug. 8 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The honor is recognition for the work by the local volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo.

Ken Stonecipher

Ken Stonecipher

“This is a huge honor for Guymon, for Texas County and for all the people that have put in so much hard work over the years,” said Ken Stonecipher, the production coordinator for the rodeo and a longtime member of the committee. “I got the call (Thursday) telling me we were going to be inducted, and I couldn’t believe the timing.”

Rodeo action will begin Monday morning and last seven straight days, culminating in the four performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“Being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame is an incredible honor for us,” said Jim Quimby, the committee chairman, noting that the committee is part of the Guymon Chamber of Commerce. “We are very proud of our rodeo. We have a core group of people who work all year to put this on, but this is a community event. We wouldn’t have the kind of rodeo we have without our community.”

That community includes all of Texas County and most of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The rugged terrain is home to some of the greatest cowboys in the history of the sport, many of whom still make their homes on the soil not far from the storied arena. It’s the perfect place to test a cowboy’s mettle and talents.

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

Texas County also is home to Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which has a strong rodeo tradition. In fact, a number Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champions have ties to the area, including team roping heeler Jhett Johnson and saddle bronc riders Billy Etbauer, Robert Etbauer, Tom Reeves, Jeffrey Willert and Taos Muncy; together they own 12 gold buckles.

“We call OPSU Bronc Riding U. because there are so many great bronc riders who went to school there,” Stonecipher said. “The reality is there just a lot of great cowboys who have gone to school in Goodwell, but there are a lot of outstanding cowboys and cowgirls who grew up around here, too.”

Each year, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo features a who’s who of top contestants with ties to the Oklahoma Panhandle. This past December, two of those returned home with the reserve world championships: saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer, a two-time runner-up to the world champion, and Joe Frost, a senior at Panhandle State who is riding this weekend at the Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo, the final event of the 2014-15 regular season.

They all return to Guymon for Pioneer Days Rodeo. This year’s event features more than 950 entries, which bodes quite well for a rodeo of this stature. Not many other professional rodeos have a contestant field that large.

Pete Carr

Pete Carr

“We pride ourselves in being a rodeo for the cowboys,” Quimby said. “We want to have the best hospitality, and we want them to know they’re welcome here. It all comes back to be a huge benefit on our community.”

The induction also says a lot about the labor produced by the hard-working committee.

“Everyone looks forward to coming to Guymon for Pioneer Days every spring, and it’s an honor for our company to be a part of that event,” said Pete Carr, owner of Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, one of the top five livestock firms in the PRCA each of the past two years. “Guymon’s rodeo and its surrounding communities have some of the richest history of any place that we have the privilege of working with.

“The fans there are some of the most knowledgeable in the rodeo industry, and they have come to expect an NFR-caliber show during each and every performance.”

So have the cowboys. In August, the rest of the rodeo world will know, too.

postheadericon County is Home of World Champs

BRIDGEPORT, Texas – Wise County, Texas, is quickly becoming the Home of World Champions.

In this 932-square-mile pocket of north Texas are 32 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association gold buckles. This beautiful landscape is quickly turning into rodeo central and has become the perfect home for ProRodeo’s elite.

Trevor Brazile

Trevor Brazile

That’s an awfully effective drawing card for the Karl Klement Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at Sunset Retreat Arena, formerly the Bridgeport Riding Club Arena.

This is the hometown rodeo for the greatest names in the game.

Take Trevor Brazile, the reigning all-around champion in Bridgeport. In 2014, he moved his gold buckle earnings to 21, adding his record 12th all-around world title and fifth steer roping championship. He is expected to return for this year’s competition, as are members of his family and his extended family.

Enter Tuf Cooper, Brazile’s brother-in-law – Cooper’s sister, Shada, also competes and qualified for the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in barrel racing. Cooper earned his third tie-down roping crown in four seasons last year. He is the youngest of three sons to Roy Cooper; the “Super Looper” is an eight-time world champ that also lives in Wise County.

Tuf Cooper

Tuf Cooper

In all, this expansive community of 61,000 residents boasts of 103 NFR qualifications, led, of course, by Brazile. Between the NFR and the Clem McSpadden National Finals Steer Roping, he has 45 qualifications. He is followed by Roy Cooper’s 32, then a tie between Tuf Cooper and steer wrestler K.C. Jones with eight.

The oldest Cooper son, Clint, is a five-time qualifier in tie-down roping, and middle son, Clif, is a four-time qualifier.

“I think getting those big-name contestants is big for our rodeo,” said David Turnbow, chairman of the volunteer rodeo committee that produces the rodeo. “We’ve got some of the greatest cowboys in the world that are just 20 minutes from our arena. It’s fun for our community to see that.”

This is the perfect place to watch talent blossom. It’s one of the reasons members of the Bridgeport community volunteer their time to produce a world-class rodeo in Wise County.

“We want to put on the best rodeo possible, for the fans, for the contestants and for the sponsors,” Turnbow said. “This is truly a community event, and we’re building it for our community.”

postheadericon Rangers women wear region crown

ALVA, Okla. – It’s been a long time coming for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo team.

For the first time in seven years, the Rangers have won the Central Plains Region’s women’s team title, clinching the championship this past weekend by winning the Fort Hays (Kan.) State University rodeo.

Through nine of 10 events – the final rodeo of the 2014-15 season will be this coming weekend at Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo in Guymon, Okla. – the Northwestern women have won five titles.

Stockton Graves

Stockton Graves

“I’m very proud of our women’s team this year,” said Stockton Graves, the Rangers rodeo coach. “We set our goal at the first of the year to win the region, and we’ve accomplished that. We have one more rodeo this season, and we’d like to close that one out with a win.”

That’s highly possible. Northwestern is 849 points ahead of the second-place team, rival Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and nearly 1,100 better than No. 3 Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Winning at least half the events in a 10-rodeo season is a major statement.

“Our team has really worked together, and we try to build each other up,” said Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D., who won goat tying in Hays to clinch the region title. “I’m pretty sure we all had that (team title) on our mind.”

Shayna Miller

Shayna Miller

In Hays, Miller won the first round with a 7.7-second run, then finished second in the final round to win the title with a two-run cumulative time of 15.9 seconds – half a second faster than the field, which included three other Rangers: Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz.; Elli Price of Leady, Okla.; and Tearnee Nelson of Faith, S.D. Barnes finished tied for third, while Price was sixth.

For the third time this season, Miller led the way for the Rangers.

“She’s had a huge impact on our women’s team,” Graves said of Miller. “She’s scored over 1,000 points in goat-tying. She’s a real hard worker and gives those girls something to look up to. She’s had a big influence on our team.”

That makes a difference, especially on a team that has seen some success in recent years. The last two seasons, the Northwestern women also qualified as a team to the College National Finals Rodeo by finishing second in the region.

“Even though I’m leading it, Karley (Kile) and Lauren have put a lot of points in there,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t be winning the region if it wasn’t for all of us together.”

That’s a great building block for the team’s future. Any time a group sees success, it helps each individual in the group see how the work pays off.

“It gives them some sort of pride and gives us something to look forward to and proves that we can do it,” Graves said. “They take pride in being one of the top two teams in the region and hopefully one of the top two teams in the nation.”

Other short-round qualifiers for the women were breakaway roper Samantha McGuire of Backus, Minn. and barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla. The Northwestern men were led by Laine Herl of Goodland, Kan., who placed in both heading and steer wrestling.

Herl won the short round in steer wrestling with a 5.4-second run and finished second in the two-run aggregate. He and heeler Chase Lako of Hunter, N.D., finished third in team roping. Another two-event star, Tyler Batie of Black Hawk, S.D., placed fifth in bulldogging and team roping, competing with heading teammate Edgar Fierro of Kingfisher, Okla. Another steer wrestler, Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, finished sixth.

The top Ranger in team roping was header Dalton Richards of Hawkinsville, Ga., who placed second with heeler Ben Whiddon of Southeastern. They finished in a tie for second place in the first round with Herl/Lako, then posted an 11.8-second run to finish second in the short round. Richards sits second in the region heading into the final event of the season.

“I’ve been this close before, so I’m not really trying to think about it too much,” said Richards, who will, “just keep roping my game and see how it goes.”

postheadericon Rodeo queen among elite in Guymon

GUYMON, Okla. – Lauren Heaton is quite proud to represent the state of Oklahoma as she travels the rodeo circuit in 2015.

Lauren Heaton

Lauren Heaton

She is the first Miss Rodeo Oklahoma to win the Miss Rodeo America title, and she will be in the Oklahoma Panhandle for the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.

“I was raised in Oklahoma rodeo,” said Heaton, a 2013 Oklahoma State University graduate from Alva, Okla. “It gave me so much. It created so much of who I am today. I want to take so much of what Oklahomans are. There’s such a spirit to Oklahomans.

“I really hope to take that across the country and showcase that to the rest of the rodeo industry.”

Heaton was crowned last December during the pageant that took place in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. She’s spent the last five months as the sport’s primary ambassador.

Now she’s adding a home state rodeo to her list of events this season.

“We’re very excited to have Lauren coming back to Guymon this year,” said Becky Robinson, a longtime member of the Pioneer Days Rodeo committee. “It was important to us to have the first Oklahoman Miss Rodeo America in Guymon.”

Heaton is one of many rodeo queens who will be part of the festivities. It’s just part of the overall package that is Pioneer Days Rodeo, which will feature seven straight days of competition with “slack” beginning at 8 a.m. through the weekdays – steer roping will take place Monday, April 27, and Tuesday, April 28; team roping, steer wrestling and tie-down roping will be Wednesday, April 29, and Thursday, April 30; and barrel racing will be Friday, May 1.

In all, nearly 1,000 cowboys and cowgirls will be battling through the week for Oklahoma Panhandle cash. Guymon is a major stop on the ProRodeo tour.

Taos Muncy

Taos Muncy

“We take a lot of pride in being a rodeo that the cowboys want to come to,” said Jim Quimby, chairman of the rodeo committee. “We have a great history of more than 80 years, and the contestants know that we’re going to cater to them.”

It makes sense. After all, cowboys with ties to the Oklahoma Panhandle have earned 12 gold buckles: saddle bronc riders Billy Etbauer (5), Robert Etbauer (2), Taos Muncy (2), Tom Reeves and Jeffery Willert join heeler Jhett Johnson as world champions. All six cowboys were part of the rodeo team at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in nearby Goodwell, Okla.

But there are many more contestants with ties to Texas County that are or have been NFR regulars, including two-time reserve world champion saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer, another Panhandle State rodeo team alumnus.

“We’re very proud of the cowboys and cowgirls that are from here and look forward to seeing them every year when they come back for our rodeo,” Quimby said. “To me, it shows everyone that we have some of the best cowboys in the world from right here.”