ALVA, Okla. – It was a virtual clean sweep for the Northwestern Oklahoma State University men’s rodeo team.
The Rangers had the winners in all three timed events this past weekend at the Colby (Kan.) Community College rodeo and earned the first team title of the new Central Plains Region season. Northwestern earned 503.3 points to outlast reigning national champion Oklahoma Panhandle State University by just 13.3 points to claim the crown.
“We have a lot of great guys where we can get those team points stacked up,” said Riley Wakefield, a junior from O’Neill, Neb. “Since I first started, I’ve learned that every event matters. There are guys here that really show that well.”
Competing in his first Central Plains rodeo of his career, Wakefield won the tie-down roping title in Colby, edging teammate Grayson Allred of Kanarraville, Utah, by just two-tenths of a second. Those two cowboys accounted for more than half the team points and bolstered the Rangers to a strong finish.
They were joined in the winner’s circle by steer wrestler Cody Devers of Perryton, Texas, and team ropers Maverick Harper of Stephenville, Texas, and Tanner Nall of Colcord, Okla.
“That’s probably the most exciting part, that the guys in our team delivered in different areas,” said Wakefield, who transferred after having a solid two-year career at Gillette (Wyo.) College. “By being able to win all three timed events, it shows that we have people who can pick up the slack in those events. It’s great to have people in all those events.”
He roped and tied his first calf in 10.9 seconds, finishing fifth in the opening round. He then stopped the clock in 9.7 seconds to win the final round and overtake the average. When the top cowboys faltered in the championship round, Wakefield took a big step forward. Allred finished third in both rounds and moved up two spots with a two-run cumulative time of 20.8 seconds.
“I’ve roped with ‘Bubba’ at all the practices in Alva, and he does a great job,” Wakefield said of Allred. “I think that makes us rope better, because we have that competition every day and get to rope with somebody that matches your skill level and helps you improve.
“That’s one of the reasons I chose to come to school here. I knew there were guys here that were going to push me. I knew I would be getting around people that will make you better.”
Harper and Nall were just two of five Rangers team ropers in the short round. They were joined by Cole Koppitz of Alva, Okla., and his partner, Cole Quaney of Cheney, Kan., and Allred, who roped with Sam Stamper of Oklahoma State University.
Harper and Nall finished third in the opening round with a 7.4-second run, while Allred and Stamper stopped the clock in 8.0 to place fifth. The Harper-Nall tandem then won the final round with a 7.5, and their 14.9 cumulative time earned them the overall title. Allred-Stamper and Koppitz-Quaney were unable to secure a short-round time.
Devers was dominant in steer wrestling. He won both rounds and posted the fastest run of the weekend in the championship when he scored a 3.7-second run. He accumulated 180 points all by himself. Talon Roseland of Marshalltown, Iowa, finished second, while Ethan Price of Leedy, Okla., was third.
Harper placed fifth in bulldogging, and Allred finished sixth – not only did Allred make the short round in all three events, but he also scored points in each. What’s more impressive is that all five Northwestern bulldoggers placed.
“Looking at our team and lineup, I have high hopes for all these rodeos,” Wakefield said. “We have so many guys that do multiple events so well. If two or three of us can step up and place along in multiple events, that’s just going to help us. Hopefully we can continue to have different guys deliver.”
While the men earned the championship, the Rangers women put together a solid performance. Nine Northwestern cowgirls made the championship round, including Jennifer Massing, who made the short round and earned points in both goat tying and barrel racing.
Massing, of Ponoka, Alberta, won the first round of barrel racing with a 16.92-second run, the fastest of the rodeo. She fell off pace a little in the final round but still finished second in the average. Sara Bynum of Beggs, Okla., finished second in the opening round, fourth in the short round and third in the average. Ashlyn Moeder of Oakley, Kan., finished in a tie for sixth, while Baillie Wiseman of Aztec, N.M., also earned her place in the championship.
Massing also finished third in the average in goat tying, just a 10th of a second behind teammate Melissa Couture of Springdale, Ark., the runner-up. Meghan Carr finished fourth. Katy Miller of Faith, S.D., finished second in the opening round but failed to have a time in the short round. Aundrea Dufrane of Dawson, Minn., also advanced to the final round.
Brittany Cudworth of Warwick, N.D., secured her breakaway-roping catch to ensure a top-three finish in the short round and average. After advancing to the championship with a 3.7-second run, Cudworth roped her calf in 12.4 seconds, but she was one of just three cowgirls to secure a short-round time.
With that many Rangers in the final round, they gave themselves every opportunity to capitalize.
“Through my experience, I’ve learned that if you make the short round at every rodeo, you’re going to end up good in the standings,” Wakefield said. “We just need to keep doing that, and I think it’s going to show in the long run.”