ALVA, Okla. – Laine Herl was dominant in his return to Kansas this past weekend.
Herl, of Goodland, Kan., won the steer wrestling championship at the Kansas State University Rodeo in Manhattan, Kan., taking the top prize among four Northwestern Oklahoma State University bulldoggers in the final round.
It paid off well. The Kansas cowboy finished second in the first round to teammate Tyler Batie, who scored a 3.8-second run to win the opener. He shared the fastest time in the short round with Denver Berry of Connors (Okla.) State College. His two-run time of 8.4 seconds was nearly a second faster than Berry, the runner-up.
“I just need to keep throwing them down, draw good and make the best run possible,” Herl said. “I want to make every short-go and make a run at the college finals.”
He transferred to Northwestern from Western Oklahoma State College, and he’s found the Alva campus to his liking. He now has the tutelage of coach Stockton Graves, a Northwestern alumnus who qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo seven times, and Kody Woodward, also a winning bulldogger.
“There’s nobody better to practice with,” Herl said of the coaching staff. “They’ve been there and done that. They know every situation to help you, the little things to make you better.”
Herl and Batie were joined in the short round by fellow steer wrestlers Steven Culling and James Struxness and heelers Dustin Searcy and William Whayne. Searcy, roping with Western Oklahoma’s Hunter Munsell, won the first round with a 5.4-second run.
The Northwestern women were led by goat-tier Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D., who shared the K-State victory with Shelby Whiting of Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
“My first run was kind of sloppy, but I got through it and got to another one,” said Miller, who shared identical scores with Whiting all weekend; both women had 6.2-second runs to finish out of the placing in the opening round, then were 6.0 to share the short-round and average victories. “In the short round, I just made another solid run.”
She earned 110 points in Manhattan and moved into the lead in the Central Plains Region goat-tying standings. She was joined in the short round by fellow goat-tier Karley Kile, whose 5.6 was good enough for second place in the opening round; breakaway roper Elli Price, who placed third; and barrel racers Shea Ransome and Kelsey Driggers. Driggers won the first round with a 12.00-second run, but Ransome finished second in the average.
“I feel like we (as a team) are pretty stacked up, especially in goat-tying,” Miller said, noting that the Rangers women lead the region standings with five events remaining in the season. “We’ve got good ropers and good barrel horses, so I feel like we could definitely win the region.”