DUNCAN, Okla. – The qualifiers are set for the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Rodeo.
In all, 108 contestants from the Oklahoma-Kansas-Nebraska region will make their way to Duncan for the finale, set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18 at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center. That means the cream of the crop from one of ProRodeo’s top circuits will showcase their skills over the three-day competition.
While several championships have already been decided, the Prairie Circuit Finals is still a major stop for the cowboys and cowgirls who have qualified. The top prize in the region is the year-end title, which is awarded to the contestant in each event who finishes year with the most money won.
The next best thing is the circuit finals average title, which will go to the contestant in each event that finishes the three-day finale with the best cumulative time or score. An important carrot at the end of the stick is a trip to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, which takes the year-end and average champions in each event from the 12 ProRodeo circuits.
The race is on. In fact, there is a very tight race for the year-end title in steer wrestling, where the top six cowboys are separated by less than $2,200. Cole Edge of Durant, Okla., leads the standings with $11,770, followed by Stockton Graves of Alva, Okla., who is less than $400 behind.
Go-round winners will earn about $1,200 each of the three nights, with the average winner pocketing an additional $1,800. That means that the next four – Brandon Volker of Alva; Trell Etbauer of Goodwell, Okla.; Kyle Irwin of Robertsdale, Ala.; and Jeff Miller of Blue Mound, Kan. – are still in the mix for that coveted year-end championship.
Irwin, who lives primarily in Oklahoma after attending Northwestern Oklahoma State University, won the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo steer wrestling championship last spring.
That’s also a big part of the conversation for the 12 qualifiers in each of the other events. Those that have punched their tickets to Ocala are the secured year-end champions: bareback rider Caine Riddle of Vernon, Texas; header Andrew Ward of Edmond, Okla.; saddle bronc rider of Coleman, Okla.; and bull rider Sage Kimzey of Strong City, Okla.
The other races area open, though it will take solid performances by the existing runners-up to make a move on the leaders: tie-down roper Bryson Seachrist of Apache, Okla., is $5,000 behind Jerome Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla., and barrel racer Ivy Hurst of Walnut Springs, Texas, is $4,300 behind Gretchen Benbenek of Aubrey, Texas. Benbenek is the reigning national champion barrel racer.
Other tight races are in heeling – where Reagan Ward of Edmond is just $1,100 ahead of Billie Saebens of Nowata, Okla. – and in steer roping, where Chet Herren of Pawhuska, Okla., is $1,300 head of Brady Garten of Claremore, Okla.
When the best in ProRodeo arrive in Duncan, it will definitely be a showcase, just as it is meant to be.