ALVA, Okla. â€“ For every individual accomplishment in college rodeo, there sits a long list of others on the team who are part of every honor, every award.
Thatâ€™s been a vital part of the Northwestern Oklahoma State University rodeo teamâ€™s run through the 2014-15 season and why the Rangers women claimed the Central Plains Region championship. Now they hope that carries over into a solid run during next weekâ€™s College National Finals Rodeo, set for June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo.
â€śI like our girlsâ€™ chances a lot at Casper,â€ť said Stockton Graves, a Northwestern alumnus who coaches the Rangers. â€śThe girls were really focused this year on winning the region. Theyâ€™re really focused on trying to win a national title, too.
â€śMaybe in the past, that hasnâ€™t been the goal with the girls. Itâ€™s always been my goal, but this year itâ€™s their goal, too.â€ť
The women are paced by two goat-tiers, junior Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D., and senior Lauren Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz., who finished first and second, respectively, in the region standings.
They will be joined by a pair of breakaway ropers, senior Karley Kile of Overbrook, Kan., and freshman Sammi McGuire of Backus, Minn., who both finished out of the top three automatic qualifications but still earned the right to compete at the college finale since the team finished among the top two in the region and Kile and McGuire were among the top 30 percent in the breakaway standings.
â€śKarley just got bumped out of making the college finals on her own at the last rodeo,â€ť Graves said. â€śThatâ€™s the thing about having a good womenâ€™s team; we had girls that get to know the college finals were within reach.â€ť
The womenâ€™s team will be joined by two from the menâ€™s team, senior header Dalton Richards of Hawkinsville, Ga., and freshman steer wrestler Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah. Richards finished second among regional headers, while Allred was third.
â€śI thought we shouldâ€™ve qualified more men this year,â€ť Graves said. â€śWe just didnâ€™t take advantage of the situations. Bubba (Allred) did. Daltonâ€™s been strong all year. I was really glad to see Dalton make it. Heâ€™s been fourth the last few years and couldnâ€™t quite get over the hump. I was very proud of him for doing that.
â€śThis year had probably the toughest group of steer wrestlers in this region since Iâ€™ve been coaching. For Bubba to come in as a freshman and do good says something for him. Heâ€™s a good kid and works hard, and I like his attitude.â€ť
A menâ€™s team title is unlikely with just two qualifiers, but Graves still has high expectations for the duo.
â€śI set the goals for them pretty high,â€ť he said. â€śThe odds are that two guys arenâ€™t going to win a national title, but that shouldnâ€™t be their goal anyway. I think they should try to win a national title for themselves. We have yet to have a national champion from here in Alva, and thatâ€™s our goal. I want those kids to compete well.â€ť
That also will be the key for the Rangers women. Miller and Barnes dominated the goat tying in the region â€“ Miller scored 1,005 points, while Barnes was a close second at 900; she was 225 ahead of the third-place cowgirl.
â€śShayna coming in as a junior transfer was very important to our team, but we knew she would do good,â€ť Graves said. â€śShe came in like the rest of them; she was focused and worked hard at it and has accomplished what she wanted to do so far. She was a great asset to the team, but she didnâ€™t win the regional title on her own.
â€śFor Lauren, she just missed he college finals as a freshman. That motivated her a lot to do better and work harder. Laurenâ€™s always been a hard worker. Part of maturing is learning how to win.â€ť
The Rangers have done that quite a bit over the season. That experience, and the right mentality, will help them in Casper.
WEATHERFORD, Texas â€“ Itâ€™s been four years since Big Tex has bucked at a rodeo in bareback riding.
The Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo horse returns to his original discipline this week during the Parker County Frontier Days and PRCA Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 10-Saturday, June 13, at the Parker County Sheriffâ€™s Posse Arena.
Big Tex is a 15-year-old bay gelding sired by the great Night Jacket. In 2010, he was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Bareback Horse of the Year, and heâ€™s been selected to perform at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo each of the past nine years; his last three have come in saddle bronc riding.
He is one of many top Carr animals that will buck in Weatherford this week, matched with one of the top young bareback riders in the game in Chad Rutherford of Itasca, Texas, a former College National Finals Rodeo qualifier.
There are some incredible match-ups scheduled for the Parker County Sheriffâ€™s Posse Arena, including several elite cowboys matched with some of the best animals in the game. Luke Creasy, the No. 6 bareback rider in the standings, will ride Night Bells, an 11-year-old gelding that has bucked at the NFR five times.
Other bareback riding match-ups include Yvan Jayne, the fourth-ranked bareback rider, on Utopia; Jared Smith, a two-time NFR qualifier, on Good Time Charlie; Taylor Price on Alberta Child; and Winn Ratliff, a two-time NFR qualifier, on Dirty Jacket, the reigning Horse of the Year.
In saddle bronc riding, Wade Sundell, a six-time NFR qualifier, will try his hand on Manhatten Moon, a young horse on which Sundell won the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo with a 91-point ride. Other key rides will be Travis Sheets on Gold Coast, Doug Aldridge on Spur Strap, Cort Scheer on Cowboy Cowtown and Bradley Harter on Cool Runnings.
Two-time NFR bull riding qualifier Elliot Jacoby will be matched with Footloose, while four-time qualifier Tate Stratton will battle Missing Parts and Jacob Oâ€™Mara will try his hand on Poker Face, the reserve runner-up bull of the year in 2014.
The Weatherford rodeo has a grand history in the game, and the match-ups have set a strong standard for this yearâ€™s event to be one of the best ever.
CROSBY, Texas â€“ Thereâ€™s a reason why many of the top cowboys in the game have circled the dates on the calendar for the Crosby Fair and Rodeo.
They know theyâ€™ll get the best bucking horses and bulls from Pete Carrâ€™s Classic Pro Rodeo, the firm that produces the annual event set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday at Rockâ€™n C Arena.
â€śPete Carr has the bucking horses and bulls that are unreal,â€ť said bareback rider Clint Cannon, a four-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Waller, Texas. â€śWhen I think about Pete Carr, I think about 90-point rides, rock â€™nâ€™ roll music and fans loving it.â€ť
Cannon will be one of several NFR qualifiers scheduled to compete in Crosby. Itâ€™s one of the attractive features the county has when the fair and rodeo takes place each June.
This yearâ€™s event also will feature Cody Teel, the 2012 world champion bull rider from Kountze, Texas, and a three-time NFR qualifier. Itâ€™s more than a close drive from home for Teel; he understands the drawing power the Carr firm has for cowboys.
â€śHeâ€™s got the best bull pen going,â€ť Teel said of Carr. â€śHeâ€™s got my vote for stock contractor of the year. He really tries to put together a good set of bulls, and it shows. There wasnâ€™t one bull you didnâ€™t want to get on. He gives a guy every opportunity to win.
â€śI was more anxious for his rodeos this year because of his bulls. You know youâ€™re going to draw pretty good. It showed this year. All his rodeos had a lot of big scores, which shows how good the bulls really are. He definitely has the deepest set of bulls in rodeo.â€ť
Pete Carr is a two-time nominee for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Associationâ€™s Stock Contractor of the Year. Each of the past two seasons, 27 Carr animals were selected to buck at the NFR, an event record for the number of animals from one contractor.
That kind of firepower makes for an amazing show for rodeo-goers. Of course, having the top stars in town makes a big difference.
â€śPeteâ€™s got an eye for horses, and heâ€™s surrounded himself with people who know what theyâ€™re talking about,â€ť said saddle bronc rider Heith DeMoss, a six-time NFR from Heflin, La. â€śYou want to go to Peteâ€™s rodeos, because youâ€™re going to get on something.â€ť
The key for any competitor is having a chance to win any time they are in the arena. Cowboys know that will be possible in Crosby.