ALVA, Okla. – Northwest Kansas always will be home to Laine Herl.
The Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowboy found a homecoming quite to his liking this past weekend, winning the steer wrestling title and helping guide the Rangers men to the team title at the Colby (Kan.) Community College rodeo.
The Northwestern men scored 550 points to beat reigning Central Plains Region champion Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Herl contributed 150 to that total by placing in both go-rounds, winning the championship round and the average title. In all, he grappled two steers to the ground in 9.8 seconds, finishing nine-tenths of a second ahead of teammate Jacob Edler.
“It means a lot to win that rodeo,” Herl said. “My family was able to be there, and just to start off the season on a good note was big. It’s great to start off the season with a win and hopefully keep plugging along to win the region and make the college finals.”
Herl was one of three Rangers to win Colby titles, joined by tie-down roper Bryson Seachrist and barrel racer Sara Bynum. Seachrist won both rounds and the average title; he downed his first calf in 8.7 seconds, then followed that with an 8.6-second run in the short round.
Bynum, who paced the way for the women’s team that finished second overall in Colby, won the first round with a 16.58-second run. She followed that with a 17.26 to place in the short round and clinch the title.
They were just a few of many Rangers that placed in Colby: Goat-tiers Leremi Allred and Tearnee Nelson; header Hunter Munsell and his partner, Sawyer Barham as well as heeler Wade Perry; steer wrestlers Joby Allen and Brock White; bull riders Marcell Jacob and Weston Wilson; and bareback rider Austin Graham.
“I think we’re just smarter about how we go about stuff,” Herl said. “We’ve added some good guys this year, and that makes it a lot better.”
Another valuable asset is how the team prepares. All attribute much of their success to coach Stockton Graves, a Northwestern alumnus who is a seven-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
“He’s been there at the highest level, so he knows what it takes to win,’ Herl said. “We’re having some up-tempo practices. We’re running more steers on the ground and focusing on the little stuff so when it comes down to it, you’re making the same run time and time out. We’re working on the basics.
“We’re starting up the matches. With that, we’re learning what to do in certain situations, so come short-go time at a college rodeo, you’re not panicking. You know you’ve been in the same place in a match before, so it helps a lot.”
It paid off this last weekend in northwest Kansas.