CLAREMORE, Okla. – Tie-down roper Will Howell is young, but he’s got the confidence of a crafty veteran.
That was quite an advantage Saturday night during the second performance of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, where Howell posted an 8.6-second run to move in to second place in the four-day rodeo. He’s the closest cowboy to leader Hunter Herrin, a five-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier who posted a 7.7 on Thursday night to kick start the competition.
“I really like competing on this level, and I feel like I’m good enough,” said Howell, 19, of Stillwater, Okla. “I feel like I’m going to make a long-term career out of it.”
Maybe he should.
Howell won the National High School Finals Rodeo’s tie-down roping title in 2008 and is competing as a freshman on a rodeo scholarship at nearby Northwestern Oklahoma State University. He has qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo, which will take place in two weeks in Casper, Wyo. But he’s got great aspirations, especially since this is his rookie season in ProRodeo.
“I got my permit in June last year, and I filled it at one rodeo,” he said.
In order to compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, cowboys must go through a try-out phase and must raise enough money to qualify for the opportunity to become card-carrying contestants in the organization. Now that he’s a member, Howell is shooting for the stars. He’d like to be among the top 12 in the region and qualify for the Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for October in Duncan, Okla.
Of course, he’s sitting in good position to cash a nice check in Claremore – in rodeo, dollars are championship points, and the top money-winner in each event at the end of the season is crowned champion. This weekend has worked pretty well so far for Howell, who won the Poteau (Okla.) Frontier Rodeo.
What does it mean to do well at two regional rodeos in the same weekend?
“It should put me in the standings right there where I need to be to make the circuit finals this year,” Howell said. “I’m trying to win the rookie title, too, so it all helps.”
When a cowboy’s goals are set high, there’s a chance dreams can be crushed. But most often, it means one’s confidence is great. That’s the case with Howell.
“I’m 100 percent confident,” he said.
He’s also got the same gold-buckle dreams of any contestant who has ever played the game. When he sleeps, he envisions golden chutes and riding for the biggest money in the game at the NFR.
“I plan to try to do that in the next two years,” Howell said.
That’s what winners do.
Will Rogers Stampede
Bareback riding leaders
1. Matt Bright on Rafter H Rodeo’s Read Head and Bee Jay Scott on Rafter H’s Flaxy, 72 points; 3. Jake Self, 71; 4. Jake Brown, 68; 5. Tyler Waltz, 64; 6. Johnathan Taylor, 6.
Steer wrestling leaders
1. Clay Mindeman, 3.7 seconds; 2. Shane Henderson, 3.9; 3. Walt Sherry, 4.0; 4. Sean Mulligan and Crazy Clark, 4.2; 5. Jason Tapley, 4.3; 6. Tommy Cook, 4.5.
Saddle bronc riding leaders
1. Jesse James Kirby on Rafter H Rodeo’s Stuart Little, Jacobs Crawley on Rafter H’s Festus and Justin Hegwer on Rafter H’s Black Bart, 77 points; 4. Travis Sheets and Louie Brunson, 76; 6. Isaac Diaz, Tyrel Larsen and Jeremy Melancon, 74.
Tie down roping leaders
1. Hunter Herrin, 7.7 seconds; 2. Will Howell, 8.6; 3. Caddo Lewallen, 8.9; 4. Travis Rogers, 9.3; 5. Chris Neal, 9.8; 6. Trell Etbauer, 10.0.
Team roping leaders
1. Destry Graham/Jimmy Thomas, 5.2 seconds; 2. Hunter Munsell/Derrick Jantzen, 5.4; 3. Eric Flurry/Billie Saebens and Trey Harmon/Braden Harmon, 5.5; 5. Ryan VonAhn/Nick Rowland, 5.6; 6. Jesse Stipes/Casey Stipes, 5.7.
Barrel racing leaders
1. Carlee Pierce, 17.36 seconds; 2. Mary Walker, 17.47; 3. Megan Rinehart, 17.49; 4. Jeanne Anderson, 17.50; 5. Robyn Herring, 17.51; 6. Shada Brazile, 17.53; 7. Kara Fox, 17.56; 8. Karri McKim, 17.62; 9. Kaley Bassm, 17.67; 10. Christy Honsberger, 17.71.
Bull riding leaders
1. Jesse Pohlman, 76 points on Rafter H Rodeo’s Alligator Chomp; 2. Buck Moon, 70; 3. Cole Echols, 68; no other qualified rides.
1. J.P. Wickett, 10.5 seconds, $946; 2. Chet Herren, 11.1, $783; 3. Brad Prather, 11.8, $620; 4. Shane Suggs, 12.4, $457; 5. Kim Ziegelgruber and Cody Scheck, 12.7, $228.
1. Rocky Patterson, 10.1 seconds, $946; 2. Shandon Stalls, 10.4, $783; 3. Jess Tierney, 11.3, $620; 4. Walter Priestley, 11.8, $457; 5. Bryce Davis, 11.9, $294; 6. Mike Chase, 12.3, $163.
1. Bryce Davis, 25.2 seconds, $946; 2. Brad Prather, 25.7, $783; 3. Cody Scheck, 27.8, $620; 4. Shane Suggs, 28.0, $457; 5. Shorty Garten, 28.9, $294; 6. J. Tom Fisher, 31.9, $163.