CLAREMORE, Okla. – Laine Herl is just 21 years old and has big dreams in the world of rodeo.
He took a pretty solid leap toward that Friday night during the first performance of the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo. Herl, of Goodland, Kan., posted a 4.1-second run to take the early lead in steer wrestling with two performances remaining.
“I’d really like to win the rookie of the year,” said Herl, the No. 2 cowboy in the Resistol Rookie of the Year standings. “I drew a good steer and had a good start. That makes a big difference.”
Herl just finished the 2014-15 college rodeo season in fourth place in the steer wrestling standings while competing at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, about three hours west of Claremore. Unfortunately only the top three earn the right to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo that will take place next month in Casper, Wyo.
“I missed the college finals by just five points,” he said, noting that the region was filled with talented steer wrestlers. “We had about half the top 15 guys from Northwestern. Practice was tough, but everybody was there to help everybody else.”
That came in handy as he takes his place among the top players in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the premier sanctioning body for the sport. He’s traveling with veteran Jule Hazen, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Ashland, Kan.
“Jule’s helped me a lot,” Herl said. “My horse got hurt, so he allowed me to get on his. I’ve just learned a lot from him. It helps with the little things that nobody would really notice. They do all the fine-tuning things that nobody really sees but that makes a big difference.”
Herl was a multi-sport star at Goodland High School and had scholarship opportunities in both wrestling and football. He chose rodeo instead.
“My dad bulldogged for a long time,” he said. “He was still going when I was growing up, and it made me want to do it. For me, rodeo’s a better sport because everybody’s willing to help everybody else.”
Will Rogers Stampede
Leaders through first performance
Bareback riding: 1. Winn Ratliff, 78 points on Lancaster & Pickett Rodeo’s Red Ryder; 2. Kolt Kitaif, 73; 3. Tim O’Connell, 72; no other qualified rides.
Steer wrestling: 1. Laine Herl, 4.1 seconds; 2. Zac Parrington, 4.3; 3. (tie) Josh Clark, Denver Berry and Tooter Silver; 6.
Tie-down roping: 1. Tylen Layton, 10.6 seconds; 2. Trell Etbauer, 11.1; Bart Brunson, 12.6; 4. Jack Hewett, 12.9; 5. Ryan Jarrett, 13.2; 6. Cole Bailey, 16.9.
Saddle bronc riding 1. Shade Etbauer, 79 points on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Miss Molly; 2. Ryan Bestol, 78; 3. Prestan Kafka, 76; 4. Weston Pierschbacher, 75; 5; Wyatt Casper, 74; 6. Wyatt Barstow, 73.
Team roping: 1. (tie) Troy Boone/Dawson McMaster and Brett Christensen/Chase Boekhaus, 5.7 seconds each; 3. Mike Bacon/Joseph Harrison, 5.8; 4. Brock Demaree/Kraig Von Ahn, 6.3; 5. Ralph Williams/Darin Suit, 8.3; 6. Manny Egusquiza Jr./Jett Hillman, 9.8.
Steer roping: First round: 1. Bryce Davis, 11.1 seconds; 2. C.A. Lauer, 13.3; 3. Cody Lee, 13.5; 4. Jay Sellers, 13.7; 5. Jess Tierney, 16.3; 6. Luke Bland, 18.1.
Barrel racing: 1. Michele McLeod, 17.41 seconds; 2. Taylor Langdon, 17.58; 3. Katelyn McLeod, 17.63; 4. Sarah Rose McDonald, 17.66; 5. Shea-Lynn Leach, 17.67; 6. Lacinda Rose, 17.72.
Bull riding: 1. John Mincey, 84 points on Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Justin Boots; 2. John Young, 83; 3. Jimy Marten, 81; 4. Jacob O’Mara, 79; 5. Chris McCombs, 78; no other qualified rides.