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Franks named Clarendon College coach

Twisted Rodeo - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 5:16pm

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.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Guymon rodeo to be inducted into hall

Twisted Rodeo - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 11:27am
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.

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

County is Home of World Champs

Twisted Rodeo - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 12:37pm

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.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo

Rangers women wear region crown

Twisted Rodeo - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 3:24pm

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.”

Categories: Twisted Rodeo
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