ALVA, Okla. – For the second straight year, two Northwestern Oklahoma State University steer wrestlers finished among the top 10 at the College National Finals Rodeo.
Joby Allen of Alva and Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, finished fourth and 10th, respectively, at last week’s finale in Casper, Wyo. Allen had a four-run cumulative time of 23.5 seconds to finish in a tie for fourth overall; he also added points by finishing in a tie for fourth in the second round and placing third in the championship round.
“It took me a little while to get rolling on it,” said Allen, who dominated the final few rodeos to win the Central Plains Region title. “I didn’t have a run that I liked until the short round.
“They had been 7.8 and 11.0 on the steer I had in the short round. That was the only run of the four that my feet hit good on the ground and I was able to turn the steer back.”
He stopped the clock in 4.6 seconds, which moved him up in the final aggregate standings.
“The biggest deal in Casper is scoring sharp and catching all your cattle,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t have a great finals, but I still ended up fourth.”
Like Allen, Devers will have an opportunity to return to Casper next year. He qualified for the college finals a year ago while competing at Garden City (Kan.) Community College, then upped his game this year with a top-10 finish in his junior campaign.
“I had a good steer on the first won and ended up tying for the first-round win,” said Devers, who was 3.7 seconds in the opening round. “I didn’t draw real well after that. By the time we got down to the short go, I had to push a little too much, which caused me to break the barrier.”
By not allowing the steer the appropriate head start, Devers was penalized 10 seconds, pushing his run to 14.4 seconds.
“It cost me from finishing fourth in the average,” he said. “Winning the round was a big confidence booster. I placed in a couple rounds last year, so this was the first time for me to win a round at the college finals.”
The Northwestern men finished 13th overall – there were 58 schools that scored points, so the Rangers were among the top teams. Header Dylan Schulenberg of Coal Valley, Ill., also earned points by placing in the first round. The Rangers women had points from barrel racer Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., and goat-tier Tearnee Nelson of Faith, S.D.; both ladies placed in the third round.
Northwestern had two strong teams in Casper, but the bulldoggers gathered the lion’s share of the Rangers points. A year ago, J.D. Struxness of Appleton, Minn., won the college steer wrestling title, while Jacob Edler of State Center, Iowa, finished second.
“If you want to better yourself in steer wrestling, you come to Alva, and you’ll be better than when you came here,” Allen said. “The announcer said Alva is going to be the steer wrestling capital of college rodeo, and I think that’s the truth.”
It all goes back to what happens on a daily basis around the Northwestern campus. Cowboys and cowgirls train hard to prepare for each rodeo, each chance at competition. It’s instilled in them by rodeo coach Stockton Graves.
“He’s always really positive and promotes winning,” Devers said. “He wants you to be the best you can. If you ask, he’ll tell you anything you need. He lets you go out there and compete and win. He coaches you in the practice pen and lets muscle memory and all that practice work kick in when you get in the arena.”
It’s paying off. Even though the Rangers didn’t finish atop the heap, at least they gained another learning experience through their rodeo education.
“Finishing fourth this year makes me want to work harder, go back next year and come back with the national title,” Allen said. “It makes me want to get better.”