ALVA, Okla. – Lauren Barnes had secured another qualification to the College National Finals Rodeo in goat tying.
She wanted something more, though. She wanted to win an event championship in her senior season at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She did so at her last regular-season rodeo of a strong career, winning the goat-tying championship this past weekend at Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Doc Gardner Memorial Rodeo in Guymon, Okla.
“It felt really great to end on a high note and get that title at my last rodeo,” said Barnes of Buckeye, Ariz. “At first, my goal was to make the college finals. Once I realized I had a chance to win the (regional) all-around, that was my goal. I fell just a little bit short.”
A three-event cowgirl, Barnes returns to the college championship, set for June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo. She’s part of the Central Plains Region-winning Northwestern women’s team, which won half the rodeos in the 2014-15 season.
“I don’t know what it is about our girls team, but we are so close,” she said. “I feel like we’ve got a really strong women’s team. It feels great to have other girls there that are working just as hard as you and excited to do well.”
Barnes finished second in the region to teammate Shayna Miller of Faith, S.D. The two Rangers were runaways in the goat-tying points race. In Guymon, Barnes posted an 8.7-second run to finish second in the opening round, then followed that with a final round-winning 8.2. Her two-run cumulative time of 16.9 seconds was almost a full second faster than the field.
“I got my education because of goat tying and rodeo,” said Barnes, an elementary education major. “It helps me prepare for the rest of my life, and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing. I’ve got one more chance at (college rodeo), then go live the rest of my life in the real world.”
Barnes was one of two Northwestern goat-tiers to place in the Oklahoma Panhandle; she ws joined by Tearnee Nelson of Faith, S.D., who placed fifth. Breakaway roper Samantha McGuire of Backus, Minn., placed fifth with a two-run cumulative time of 6.9 seconds, while barrel racers Cassy Woodward of Faith, S.D., and Elli Price of Leady, Okla., qualified for the short round.
Freshman steer wrestler Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, needed something big to occur in Guymon if he were to qualify for the college finals. It did.
Allred won the first round with a 6.0-second run, then got through a tough steer in the final round in 10.2 to hold on to the second-place spot in the average. The 150 points he earned, though, pushed him to third place in the region standings, earning him a trip to Casper – he beat teammate Laine Herl of Goodland, Kan., by just five points.
In the short round, “I drew a steer that ran a little bit, so I had to stand him back up and throw him down again,” Allred said. “I knew I had to go after them and do something big, or I wasn’t going to make it.”
Three other bulldoggers made the final round: Herl, who finished third; Stephen Culling of Fort St. John, British Columbia, who placed fourth; and Mike McGinn of Haines, Ore. They were joined by tie-down roper Harper Maverick of Stephenville, Texas, who finished fifth in the opening round. At the college finals, Allred will be joined by team roping-header Dalton Richards of Hawkinsville, Ga., who finished second in the region.
The Rangers men have a strong team competing in one of the most competitive regions in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. That’s especially true in steer wrestling, where seven Northwestern cowboys finished among the top 15.
“Every day you go to practice, people are going to push you and make you better,” Allred said.