ALVA, Okla. – Trey Young knew competing in the Central Plains Region would be one of the toughest aspects of his college rodeo career.
He lives for the challenge.
“I’m from South Dakota, and I came down here because this region is tougher,” said Young, of Dupree, a community of about 1,300 in northwest South Dakota. “You get better by roping against better people.”
He’s doing pretty well. This past weekend, Young posted the best cumulative score, finishing with a two-run cumulative time of 18.6 seconds to win the Kansas State University Rodeo in Manhattan, Kan.
“He’s just a good kid, a 4.0 student,” said coach Stockton Graves, a Northwestern Oklahoma State Univeristy alumnus who took over the coaching duties at his alma mater last November. “I think that win really helped him out with his confidence.”
Young is one of two Northwestern cowboys who won their respective disciplines in Manhattan, joining team roping-heeler Dustin Searcy of Mooreland, Okla. Roping with his heading partner, Cale Markham of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, the tandem split the victory with Parker Warner of Coffeyville and Tyler Worley of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M – both teams finished in 12.3 seconds.
Searcy leads the region standings with 385 points. He also won the title at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University rodeo last fall.
The win moves Young into the top five in the circuit. That’s a nice place to be this time of year for the sophomore, who has five more rodeos the rest of the spring season to move up the standings.
“On my first run, I just wanted to go out there and make it back to the short-go,” he said of his finish in Manhattan. “The long-go is the toughest, because you’ve got so many guys to go against. You just want to make the best run you can make and not beat yourself.
“The short round is a little easier because there are only 12 to go against. I drew pretty good calves. It’s pretty neat to win that rodeo. It’s a cool arena in that little barn, and it can get pretty loud in there.”
While Young and Searcy were the top finishers, Northwestern had several cowboys and cowgirls who scored points, including steer wrestler Kyle Irwin (second); headers Brett Christenson (third), Casey Warnock (fourth) and Travis Cowan (tied for sixth); saddle bronc rider Cody Burkholder (third); tie-down roper John Howell (fourth); barrel racers Clara Morris (second) and Alexis Allen (tied for sevnth); breakaway ropers Jenna Hampton (fifth) and Kate Hansen (eighth); and goat-tiers Dusta Kimzey (second), Lauren Barnes (seventh) and Cari Cable (eighth).
The Northwestern men finished fifth at K-State, and the women finished eighth.
“We just need to kind of sharpen thing sup a little bit,” Graves said. “I feel like it was a pretty good rodeo with just a few weeks of practice. The women’s team needs to focus a little, but that’ll all come in time.”
The teams have five rodeos remaining on the schedule, with the next one scheduled for March 2-4 in Garden City, Kan. There’s still time to finish the region in the top two, qualifying the teams for the College National Finals Rodeo.
“That would be great and would dang sure be a successful year,” Graves said. “To finish in the top two with me coming in halfway in the season would be very successful in my mind.
“These kids have that kind of finish in them. We just need to take it to that level.”
The key ingredient is for each member of the team to handle their business through the remaining two months of the season.
“You have to take it one rodeo at a time,” Young said. “You want to make it back to as many short rounds as you can, because that’s where the points are.”