ALVA, Okla. – Katy Miller breathed a hefty sigh Saturday night.
The Northwestern Oklahoma State University cowgirl had overcome some early season issues and put together two solid runs to win both the breakaway roping and women’s all-around crowd and help guide the team to the women’s title at their home rodeo
“My roping hasn’t been going very good at the rodeos this year,” said Miller, a junior from Faith, S.D. “I could do it time and time again in the practice pen, but it wasn’t paying off when I’d get to the ropings. I changed some things and figured it out, and the weekend went good.
“One of my friends told me I needed to quit riding with my knees and start riding with my feet, and that made all the difference.”
Miller posted a 2.7-second run in the first round to finish in a three-way tie for fifth place, then followed that with a 2.5 in the championship round to clinch the title. She was one of three Northwestern ropers who scored points: Cassy Woodward of Dupree, S.D., was 2.4 to finish second in the long round, while Taige Trent of Burrton, Kan., placed fourth in the first round, fifth in the short round and fifth overall.
“I think our women’s team is really strong,” Miller said. “We have Tearnee Nelson from my hometown, and she got us a lot of points this weekend.”
That’s true. Nelson was 6.1 seconds to tie for the first-round victory, then posted a 6.4 to finish second in the final round and second overall. She earned 155 points for the team, while Miller was 6.5 in the opening round to finish in a tie for fifth place with teammate Jenny Massing of Ponoka, Alberta, then was 7.6 to place sixth in the short round and the average. Miller acquired 165 points between the two events, which boosted her to the top spot in the all-around.
“Winning the all-around means a lot,” Miller said. “Winning in Alva really meant a lot. My mom got to come from South Dakota to watch, and there were a lot of people from town, teachers and friends from school. It was cool to win at our home rodeo.”
The Rangers also vaulted to the team title with the help of barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., who finished fourth in the long round; a tipped barrel cost her in the final round.
“I think our team is very capable of winning the region like we have the last few years,” Miller said. “We haven’t come together in the past few rodeos like we know we can. We have six rodeos to go in the season, so we have lots of room to make up points.”
While the Northwestern women capitalized on the home rodeo, the men also gathered crucial points, finishing fourth. They were paced by steer wrestler Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, who won the first round, was runner-up in the short round and had the fastest two-run cumulative time of 8.8 seconds to claim the average title.
But he was just one of four Rangers who placed in bulldogging: Joby Allen of Alva was fourth, Ethan Price of Leedey, Okla., was fifth and Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, was sixth. Price also finished fourth in tie-down roping, just behind Mason Bowen of Bullard, Texas, whose two-run cumulative time of 18.9 seconds was good enough for third. Team roping header Dylan Schulenberg of Coal Valley, Ill., continues to find success with his heeler, Wyatt Miller of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College; they finished second in both rounds and the average, and Schulenberg has a firm grip on first place in the standings.
The weekend, though, belonged to the women’s team, which will carry over the success of the final fall rodeo into the spring portion of the season.
“Stockton gave us a talk before the weekend,” Katy Miller said. “He told us to bear down, that this was our home rodeo, and we needed to put on a show.
“We wanted to finish the fall season strong, because none of us were happy with where we’re sitting in the standings. Now we’ve got a better start at it. We all just knew it was time to get some more points and quit messing around.”